According to reports, citing Israeli security officials, Iran is attempting to shield military facilities in Syria from attack by building them in close proximity to Russian assets. The strategy is based on the assumption that Jerusalem—which has vowed to prevent Tehran from establishing a permanent military foothold across its northern border—will not risk targeting installations adjacent to Russian bases over fear of igniting a confrontation with Moscow. The construction of the Iranian facilities apparently is being carried out without Russia’s knowledge, in some cases under the guise of residential buildings that in reality are housing Shiite fighters loyal to the Islamic Republic. The Israel Air Force has over the past few months reportedly struck at least four Iranian military facilities in Syria—in addition to numerous Assad regime assets as well as weapons convoys destined for Hizbullah in Lebanon—including a well-publicized attack late last year on a structure in Al-Kiswah, where Tehran is believed to have been constructing an arms depot. Additionally, Israeli jets allegedly hit sites in Hisya, near Homs, Jamariya, west of Damascus, and Masyaf—locations where Iran purportedly was conducting military research such as the development and production of surface-to-air missiles.
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