Issue Brief on “Iran Versus Israel: The Shadow War in Syria”


What started out as the Syrian civil war has fast become the Syrian war and the Tiyas Military Airbase or T-4 as it’s known seems to be at the heart of it. On April 30, 2018, Israel demonstrated an escalation in its shadow war in Syria against Iran, with an overnight airstrike against the military base that hosts Iranian-backed mercenaries, killing 26 pro-government fighters, mostly Iranians.[1] Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah said that the airstrike was a “historic mistake”[2] and puts Israel in a state of “direct confrontation”[3] with Iran. “This is unprecedented in seven years: that Israel directly targets Iran’s Revolutionary Guards,”[4] he said.

The most recent attack on the Syrian air base near the desert town of Palmyra in central Syria drew new attention to a conflict between Iran and Israel that has been steadily increasing in intensity while mostly hidden in the shadows of Syria’s civil war. T-4 is Syria’s largest airbase complete with Soviet-era fortifications and is presently the focus of a possibly cataclysmic war, between Israel and Iran because it is where Iran has established a military foothold. “The chances of an escalation into a full-scale military conflict in Syria are higher than ever before,” Israel’s former military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin stated after the attack.[5]

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