Despite the economic damage caused by re-imposed US sanctions on its oil sector, Iran has made significant steps toward a threat made in January to switch strategies from defense to offense regarding its long-term goal of destroying Israel.
Three recent developments reveal this new strategy: a drone operation, a new missile plant in Syria and deploying an armed flotilla.
‘Way to Jerusalem’ Drone Operation
Last week, Iran’s Defense Ministry announced it had successfully completed a drone operation named “Beit al-Maqdis,” which means “way to Jerusalem.” The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) called it the strongest-ever exercise of its kind. Amir Ali Hajjizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s aerospace division, announced the drill and said Iran has the region’s largest and most advanced drone fleet.
Last November, Hajizadeh bragged of Iran’s unmatched collection of captured or downed American and Israeli drones. Last week’s operation consisted of 50 drones based on a US Sentinel drone that Iran captured in 2011, reverse engineered and modified to perform both bombing and reconnaissance missions. A captured Predator drone was also reverse engineered to be part of the mission.
The Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis (MECRA) issued a report saying the drill was part of a strategy to showcase Iran’s military prowess. MECRA also reported that Iran claims to have “hacked into US drones over Iraq and Syria.”
New Hezbollah Missile Plant in Syria
The Times of Israel reported on Sunday, “Satellite images give credence to reports that a new factory in Syria’s northwest is a facility for the production of surface-to-surface (SSM) missiles. Israeli officials believe it is a precision missile factory being constructed by Iran in cooperation with the Syrian government and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.”
Israel’s Channel 12 reported that the factory was intended to “focus on producing precision missiles, dramatically upgrading the threat to Israel from the vast arsenal of rockets and missiles deployed against it in southern Lebanon by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.”
Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, said in an interview with Iranian media on Sunday that all of Israel is within reach of Hezbollah’s missiles.
Deploying an Armed Flotilla
Also on Sunday, Iran announced that it had deployed its 61st flotilla to the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. “The naval group is on a mission to provide security for the routes used by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in the area of the Gulf of Aden and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait,” Iranian Navy's Southern Fleet Rear Admiral Afshin Tashk said.
The Jerusalem Post reported that the flotilla includes a destroyer and warships. “The deployment comes less than a month after a large-scale naval exercise in the Persian Gulf and strategic Strait of Hormuz,” the Postsaid. “Iran has been working to upgrade its navy, with new vessels and submarines introduced to bolster the country’s aging fleet and recently announced that it had commissioned its first domestically developed submarine capable of firing cruise missiles.”
While Iran claims the ships are meant only to protect its commercial vessels from pirates, some analysts suspect Iran is carrying weapons to the Iran-backed Houthis rebels in Yemen’s civil war.
The importance of these three developments was summed up by statements by Iran’s military leadership.
The chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bagheri, announced in January that Iran would change its military strategy from defensive to offensive. The next day, IRGC Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami declared, “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map. The Israelis will not have even a cemetery in Palestine to bury their own corpses.”
Please pray with us for God’s protection for Israel as Iran and its proxies in the Middle East take offensive steps to eliminate her. Also pray for protection of the Jewish people, civilians and military personnel alike, targeted by Iran and its proxies with terrorist attacks and bold military operations.