According to breaking reports, Israel has begun striking Iranian targets in Iraq, substantially extending the range of its attacks against Tehran’s assets in the region.
The target of the Israeli strikes seems to have been heavy weapons platforms being transported to Iranian-backed factions.
Asharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in the United Kingdom, cited Western diplomatic sources as saying an Israeli F-35 plane was behind a July 19 strike on a rocket depot in a Shiite militia base north of Baghdad. Regional media sources reported that Iranian-made ballistic missiles were transported to the base shortly before the attack via trucks used to transport refrigerated food. The identity of the aircraft which conducted the attack was unspecified at the time, and the United States denied any involvement. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah members were killed in the airstrike, according to the Al Arabiya news network.
Asharq also reported that a second attack by Israel took place on 28 July on a base in Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad. The aerial strike had targeted Iranian advisers who were present at the base as well as a shipment of ballistic missiles that had just arrived from Iran.
News of strikes against Iranian targets in Iraq come at a time when Israel is clearly upping the intensity of its operations in the region. There are two important take-aways from these reports. First is simply the issue of range. Part of Iran’s strategy in the region is to encircle Israel with a “united military front” consisting of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. These strikes demonstrate that Israel is both capable and willing to hit Iranian assets wherever they may be in the Middle East. Second is the point of the cooperation. The scourge of Iran and the Shiite axis which it heads has been a major impetus for Arab states and Israel to join forces. Israel successfully hitting an Iranian target over 600 miles beyond its own territory shows Jerusalem has the backing of at least some neighboring nations in executing these strikes.