As the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) hangs in the balance, tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to mount. U.S. intelligence recently announced that it is monitoring a series of cargo flights from Iran into Syria, which are suspected to be carrying weapons systems into the country for use by President Assad’s forces against the rebels and rebel-held territories.
Weapon shipments into Syria are not uncommon, but these cargo flights occurred within days of the April 13 airstrikes by the U.S. on targets related to Assad’s regime. The rhetoric between Iran and Israel has also increased, and there are legitimate concerns that areas of Syria could be used to potentially launch missiles or aircraft at Israeli targets.
Israel has reportedly already struck several targets inside Syria earlier this month, because those locations were housing suspected Iranian anti-aircraft missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles. These are not the first time that Israel has launched attacks into Syria, but all the attacks are focused on Iranian targets within Syria.
Iran has indicated that they will strike back at Israel for these attacks, although there is no indication how that will be accomplished.
“When a regime thinks that it is entitled to target counterterrorism troops in a move that comes with a planned violation of another country’s airspace, it should have certainly though of its repercussions and reactions,” said Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. “There will definitely be a punishment of the aggressor but naturally, the time, place, and quality of the response to this vicious act depends on the Islamic Republic’s will and choice.”
Russia is also defending Iran, arguing that Israel’s strikes have cost the lives of some Iranian military advisors.
The international community is very focused on Iran at the moment, as the U.S. has threatened to pull out of the JCPOA. While recent negotiations appear to be moving forward to an agreement that will keep the U.S. in the agreement, it is still unclear whether that will occur.
Iran’s involvement in Syria and the various issues that the regime is dealing with at home, have put Iran on the defensive, but with little room to maneuver. The question is whether the latest information from the U.S. intelligence will impact the current negotiations or if it will impact the actions of the United States moving forward.