In Major Shift, Israel Twice Struck Iranian Targets in Iraq 'Using F-35'

Citing Western diplomats, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reports two strikes this month northeast of Baghdad mark an expansion of Israeli attacks against Iranian targets

An Israeli Air Force F-35 plane performs during a graduation ceremony for new pilots in the Hatzerim Air Force Base near Beersheba, Israel, on December 29, 2016.
AP/Ariel Schalit

UPDATE: Iran presence in Iraq threatens Israel, security officials say

Israel has expanded the scope of its anti-Iranian attacks and struck targets in Iraq, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Tuesday.

According to the report, which cites anonymous Western diplomats, Israel struck Iranian warehouses storing arms and missiles at Camp Ashraf, north-east of Baghdad, twice in the past month.

On July 19, the base was struck by an Israeli F-35 fighter jet, the sources added. The base was allegedly attacked again on Sunday.

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The base was formerly used by the People's Mujahedin of Iran, a militia that fought against the Iranian regime.

Camp Ashraf is located around 80 km from the Iranian border and 40 km north-east  of Baghdad. The reports said that Iranian advisors were injured in the attack and that a shipment of ballistic missiles that had recently been brought from Iran to Iraq had been targeted. 

Over the past year, an number of strikes targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in Syria were attributed to Israel. 

On Wednesday morning, Syrian state media said Israel struck a Syrian army base in Tel Al-Hara in the Golan Heights, as well as other targets in Quneitra and the village of Sasa southeast of Damascus. Western intelligence sources previously said Iranian-backed militias are based in Tel Al-Hara.

Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said last week that "Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years now." 

Hanegbi added that Israel "strikes the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria, sometimes admits it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it. Sometimes the chief of staff [reveals it], sometimes the outgoing air force chief [reveals it], but it's all coordinated policy."

Hangebi went on to add that Israel is "very aggressive when it comes to our national security... We still didn't see the Iranians backing off from their intention to entrench themselves militarily in Syria, and this campaign isn't over. But they know exactly who to mess with, and who can be annoyed. We can't."