One week after Israel demonstratively released a video of a 2007 airstrike on a suspected Syrian nuclear facility (after refusing to officially acknowledge the operation for more than a decade), the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida reported late on Thursday that 2 Israeli F-35 stealth fighters had entered Iranian airspace over the past month.
Sources quoted in Al-Jarida said that two stealth fighters flew over Syrian and Iraqi airspace to reach Iran, and even targeted locations in the Iranian cities Bandar Abbas, Esfahan and Shiraz. Then the two ultra advanced fighter jets circled at high altitude above Persian Gulf – read Iranian – sites suspected of being associated with the Iranian nuclear program.
Ominously, the Kuwaiti newspaper also reports that the two jets went undetected by radar, including the Russian radar system located in Syria. It was unclear if the provocative Israeli operation was undertaken in coordination with the US army, which recently conducted joint exercises with the IDF (recall “Top US General Says American Troops Should Be Ready To Die For Israel”)
The Kuwaiti report added that the seven F-35 fighters in active service in the Israel Air Force have conducted a number of missions in Syria and on the Lebanese-Syrian border, and highlighted that the fighter jets can travel from Israel to Iran twice without refueling.
As the J-Post puts it, “the act is a signal of heightened regional tensions, especially in light of recent Israeli military attacks in Syria, including against Iranian bases in the country.”
Of course, Israel has had no qualms about admitting it launched about 100 air strikes on Syria over the past five years, targeting Hezbollah terrorists, weapons convoys and infrastructure, and it is believed to be behind dozens more. Things turned ugly in February when an Israel attempt to provoke Syria and Iran backfired: one month ago, Israeli F-16 fighter jets entered Syrian airspace, striking 12 Iranian targets in Syria in response to an Iranian drone that was shot down over Israel. Two Israeli crew members were wounded when they ejected from their jet before it crashed, which, according to Israel, was determined to be caused by pilot error.
In response to the Iranian drone, a senior Israeli official quoted by the JPost warned that Israel will react with force to Iran’s efforts to entrench itself further in Syria: “the Iranians are determined to continue to establish themselves in Syria, and the next incident is only a matter of time,” he said, warning that Israel does not rule out that that the Islamic Republic will continue to try to attack Israel.