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Security Brief: CENTCOM Week of February 21, 2022

Updated: Apr 3

Week of Monday, February 21, 2022 | Issue 62

Muskan Muskan, Mohammad Ali, Marco Parks, CENTCOM Team


Israeli Arrow 2 Missile Experiment[1]


Date: February 23, 2022

Location: Quneitra, Syria

Parties involved: Israel; Syria; Hezbollah; Iran; Israel Defense Forces (IDF); Hezbollah commander Hassan Nasrallah

The event: Israel launched missiles at Syrian military positions near the border province of Quneitra, from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region. The attack caused material damage but no casualties were reported.[2] The attack came a week after Syrian State media reported a similar Israeli missile attack near the capital city, Damascus.[3] Israeli authorities have previously claimed that Israel seeks to prevent Iran and its allies, such as Hezbollah, from extending their operations to Syria.[4] Iran is one of the largest arms exporters to Syria despite a United Nations (UN) Security Council ban.[5] Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's commander, announced that his Iran-backed group had begun building its own drones.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Israel’s attempts to target border areas with missiles likely indicate the possibility of Israel making these areas uninhabitable to fighters from Iranian-backed groups such as Hezbollah and Liwa Fatemiyoun, who are likely capable of challenging Israel on multiple fronts along its border with Syria and Lebanon. Hezbollah’s efforts to attain precision missiles and advanced air defense systems are likely the reason behind the Israeli strategy. Iran is unlikely to respond overtly to these attacks to avoid jeopardizing the ongoing negotiations to lift Iranian sanctions and revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement.

  • The two Israeli missile attacks on February 17 and February 23 suggest that there has likely been an increase in Iranian proxy activity in Syria. This is very likely an attempt by the IDF to probe the deployment sites of Syrian air defense systems such as the S200 and SA22, detect their positions, and prepare for a second air attack. Increasing Iranian proxy activity is likely due to two reasons: the Syrian government’s increasing control of the country and specific ground conditions for which Iranian proxies are needed such as increased ISIS activity or increased regime control of the country.

  • Hezbollah's efforts to build drones will almost certainly increase the likelihood of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against Israel, likely because it is an inexpensive, straightforward way to execute attacks. These drones will likely be employed for surveillance and sophisticated attacks. Hezbollah will likely conduct attacks against IDF outposts on the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah will likely use drones to surveil Israel and very likely aim to identify targets for future drone strikes such as airfields and telecommunication towers.

  • With former US President Donald Trump's sanctions towards Iran and the Middle East strengthening Israel's regional position, Israel will likely seek to combat Iran in Syria by targeting its military and militias along its eastern and southern borders. Increased attacks by Israel on sites associated with Iran's activities in Syria will likely hinder Iranian weapon development and ammunition shipments.


________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[1]Israeli Arrow 2 Missile Experiment” by IDF Spokesperson's Unit licensed under Public Domain

[2] Israel fires missiles on border positions inside Syria, Al Jazeera, February 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/23/israel-fires-missiles-on-border-positions-inside-syria

[3] Israel hits Syrian regime military positions near Golan Heights, TRT World, February 2022, https://www.trtworld.com/middle-east/israel-hits-syrian-regime-military-positions-near-golan-heights-55027

[4] Israel fires missiles on border positions inside Syria, Al Jazeera, February 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/2/23/israel-fires-missiles-on-border-positions-inside-syria

[5] Iran ‘sending arms to Syria despite ban’, Al Jazeera, May 2012, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2012/5/17/iran-sending-arms-to-syria-despite-ban

[6] Hezbollah can turn rockets into precision missiles, make drones -Nasrallah, Reuters, February 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hezbollah-making-drones-can-turn-rockets-into-precision-missiles-nasrallah-2022-02-16/


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