Archive for February 4, 2019

New Tamuz 5 missile unveiled in Rafael’s latest video

February 4, 2019

Source: New Tamuz 5 missile unveiled in Rafael’s latest video – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

The video shows the firing of the Tamuz 5 missile to above 25 km. at various target types and at a range of firing trajectories.

 FEBRUARY 4, 2019 16:09
A full scale mock up of a Spike NLOS missile made by the Israeli company, Rafael Systems

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled footage of SPIKE NLOS (Tamuz 5) precision guided missile firing test in a video released on Monday.

The video shows the firing of the Tamuz 5 missile to above 25 km. at various target types and at a range of firing trajectories. The video also shows the launcher mounted on a light SUV.

The new missile launcher can hold eight missiles, and due to the launcher’s light weight, it could be air-deployed deep in enemy territory, and mounted on any light SUV type vehicle.

“The system will be able to provide ground forces with the ability to fire accurate, low-altitude missiles against stationary and mobile targets without GPS dependence,” said Tzvi M. Rafael, head of the tactical weapon systems department. “Rafael continues to develop the cutting edge of technology capabilities and systems which provide maneuverability, accuracy and advantage to forces in different combat environments over the enemy.”


US air bombardment of Iranian sites on Syrian-Iraqi border – reprisal for Iran’s bid to attack US base in Iraq – DEBKAfile

February 4, 2019

Source: US air bombardment of Iranian sites on Syrian-Iraqi border – reprisal for Iran’s bid to attack US base in Iraq – DEBKAfile

“Multiple Iranian military sites” were struck by US warplanes early Monday, Feb. 3, , near Abu Kamal in Deir ez-Zour on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Reporting this, Syrian military spokesmen claimed that Syrian artillery positions were also hit and sustained casualties.

DEBKAfile’s military sources revealed on Saturday, Feb. 2, that three Iranian missiles were posted ready to strike the big US Ain Al Assad air base in Anbar, the Iraqi province bordering on Syria, when they were discovered in time by Iraqi security forces. They were to be launched by one of the pro-Iranian Iraqi militias. This incident graphically demonstrated Tehran’s ruthless resolve to drive US forces not just out of Syria but from Iraq as well. For the Trump administration, this foiled attempt crossed a red line.

The USAF struck during a CBS TV interview with President Donald Trump, in which he referred to the same Ain Al Assad base when he stressed the importance of maintaining US forces in Iraq. “All I want to do is to be able to watch,” he said. “We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq, It is perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East.” Rather than pulling it up, he said, “We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.”

Posted at Ain Al Assad is a US intelligence station.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that the US air raid over Iranian targets was prompted additionally by a video film released on Sunday, Feb. 3 by Tasnim, mouthpiece of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). It depicted what was described as a US army patrol near the northern Iraqi town of Nineveh being “forced to return to their base” by “pro-Iranian Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) fighters.

Our sources identify the “multiple Iranian sites” attacked by US aircraft as the headquarters of the IRGC’s Al Qods Brigades, which are visited regularly by their commander Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Located there too are command centers of the PMU and another pro-Iranian Iraqi militia, Kata’ib Hezballah, which collaborates with the Lebanese Hizballah in southern Syria.


Iraqi president: Trump did not ask permission to ‘watch Iran’ 

February 4, 2019

Source: Iraqi president: Trump did not ask permission to ‘watch Iran’ – Israel Hayom

U.S. troops are in Iraq as part of a U.S.-Iraqi agreement to combat terrorism, and they should stick to that mandate, Iraqi President Barham Salih says • U.S. President Trump to CBS: U.S. troops need to stay in Iraq because “Iran is a real problem.”

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 04/02/2019
Iraq’s President Barham Salih attends a forum in Baghdad, Monday 

Photo: Reuters

Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq’s permission for U.S. troops stationed there to “watch Iran.”

Speaking at a forum in Baghdad, Salih was responding to a question about Trump’s comments to CBS about how he would ask troops stationed in Iraq to “watch” Iran.

U.S. troops in Iraq are there as part of an agreement between the two countries with a specific mission of combating terrorism, Salih said, and that they should stick to that.

Trump said it was important to keep a U.S. military presence in Iraq so that Washington can keep a close eye on Iran “because Iran is a real problem,” according to a CBS interview broadcast on Sunday.

“Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,” Salih said. “The U.S. is a major power … but do not pursue your own policy priorities, we live here.”

Iraq is in a difficult position as tensions between its two biggest allies, the United States and Iran, increase.

“It is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran” and other neighboring countries, Salih said.


New Gaza fence under construction 

February 4, 2019

Source: New Gaza fence under construction – Israel National News

Fence along Gaza border to be built above underground wall, spanning 40 miles.

Gary Willig, 03/02/19 15:49
IDF patrols Gaza border

IDF patrols Gaza border

Flash 90

The Defense Ministry announced Sunday that work had begun on a new barrier on the Gaza border.

The new fence is being built above the underground wall designed to block the construction of terror tunnels from Gaza. The fence will be nearly 20 feet tall and 40 miles long.

“Over the weekend we began building the above-ground barrier along the Gaza border. The barrier will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said during the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday.

Work on the fence began on Thursday, according to the Defense Ministry’s statement.

In addition, a new barrier is being constructed in the Mediterranean Sea north of Gaza to prevent the infiltration of terrorists from Gaza by sea. The new fence will extend until the sea barrier.


Trump says US will ‘protect’ Israel, keep eye on Iran from Iraqi base 

February 4, 2019

Source: Trump says US will ‘protect’ Israel, keep eye on Iran from Iraqi base | The Times of Israel

President tells CBS Syria pullout moving ahead, promises US forces can be sent back quickly if need be

US President Donald Trump and son Barron Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, en route to Palm Beach, Florida, on February 1, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

US President Donald Trump and son Barron Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, en route to Palm Beach, Florida, on February 1, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

President Donald Trump said the US military would continue to protect Israel, but vowed to push ahead with a controversial troop withdrawal from Syria, in an interview aired Sunday.

Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing American troops from Syria, sparking worries that the move could leave Israeli and Kurdish allies in the lurch and open the way for Iran, Turkey and Russia to expand their influence in the war-torn country.

Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation the 2,000 US troops in the country to assist local forces would leave “in a matter of time,” and cited the need to “protect Israel and other things that we have” for slowing down — after initially announcing an immediate pull-out.

He said troops could keep an eye on Iranian activity from a base in Iraq, which he said the US would not give up, though insisted he would not use it to attack the Islamic Republic.

“We spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it. And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem,” he said.

“All I want to do is be able to watch. We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up,” he said.

Members of the Maghawir al-Thawra Syrian opposition group receive firearms training from US Army Special Forces soldiers at the al-Tanf military outpost in southern Syria on October 22, 2018. (AP/ Lolita Baldor)

Trump’s abrupt announcement in December he would pull all American soldiers from Syria, saying the Islamic State had been defeated, set off alarm bells in Israel, which has being carrying out a campaign to prevent an Iranian military presence there.

Israeli officials have pointed to the al-Tanf base in southern Syria, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan, as key to curbing Iranian attempts to smuggle weapons to Syria and Lebanon.

The planned withdrawal has driven a rare wedge between his administration and Jerusalem, and sparked a rebuke from friendly lawmakers in Washington.

Last week, the Senate voted on a measure opposing the withdrawal. An amendment from the congressional body said that Islamic State and Al-Qaeda still pose a threat to US interests and that a US withdrawal would “allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia.”

A convoy of US troops drive along a road leading to the front line with Turkish-backed fighters in north Syria, March 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Trump defended the policy Sunday saying that IS has lost 99 percent of its land. “We will be announcing in the not too distant future 100%,” Trump said.

In a report to Congress last week, US intelligence leaders warned that IS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and they could easily spring back in the absence of US forces.

Trump responded by rebuking as “naive” and “wrong” his intelligence chiefs, who also had appeared to contradict him on Iran and North Korea.

“When I look at Iran, I look at Iran as a nation that has caused tremendous problems,” he said in the interview. “So when my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is – if you don’t mind, I’m going to just go by my own counsel.”

Members of the military cheer as US President Donald Trump speaks at a hanger rally at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on December 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

He played down the danger of an extremist resurgence, but said, “We’ll come back if we have to.”

“You’re going to always have pockets of something,” he said. “But you’re not going to keep armies there because you have a few people. Or you even have fairly reasonable numbers of people.”

Moreover, he argued that US could return to Syria if there were to be a resurgence of IS.

“We’ll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly, and I’m not leaving,” Trump said.

AFP contributed to this report.


Hezbollah number two says Israel is not ready for conflict with Lebanon

February 4, 2019

Source: Hezbollah number two says Israel is not ready for conflict with Lebanon | The Times of Israel

Naim Qassem denies Netanyahu allegations that Iran controls Lebanon through the terror group, ‘we have only 3 out of 31 ministers in the government’

Commander-in-chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, left, greets Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy Secretary General of Lebanons Hezbollah, during a religious ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on August 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

Commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, (IRGC) Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, left, greets Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy Secretary General of Lebanons Hezbollah, during a religious ceremony in Tehran, Iran, on August 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

A senior Hezbollah leader on Sunday said that Israel was not ready for a conflict with Lebanon and denied allegations from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran was using its proxy to control the Lebanese government.

“I don’t think Israel is ready to start a conflict with Lebanon now because the situation is complicated and Israel is not interested in war,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said, speaking to a Lebanese TV channel. “But it if wants to launch a war, we are ready.”

Qassem was reacting to allegations made earlier Sunday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that Iran controls the new Lebanese government via its proxy Hezbollah group.

On Thursday, political factions in Lebanon ended a nine-month deadlock and agreed on a new government, which saw a strengthening of the Shiite terrorist group.

Newly-assigned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center, speaks to journalists at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Lebanese political factions have agreed on the formation of a new government, breaking a nine-month deadlock that only deepened the country’ economic woes. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Hezbollah now holds two ministries and a ministry of state, including for the first time the Health Ministry, which has one of the country’s largest budgets. The Finance Ministry remains in the hands of a Hezbollah ally, Ali Hassan Khalil.

Qassem pointed to this, saying that it was a government of national unity and Hezbollah only controlled 3 out of 31 ministries. “We are only 10 percent,” he said.

Netanyahu, in his first public comments on the government formed in Beirut last week, said the influence of Hezbollah was far greater.

“Iran has proxies. One of them is Hezbollah. Hezbollah just joined the government of Lebanon. That’s a misnomer; they actually control the government of Lebanon. It means that Iran controls the government of Lebanon,” he told a group of 40 ambassadors to the United Nations.

Netanyahu was briefing the delegation, headed by Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon, just before they headed to Israel’s northern border to inspect one of Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels.

“It’s important to send this very powerful message just as we stop the terror tunnels coming into Israel: We will stop all the aggression, from Lebanon or from Syria or from Iran itself,” Netanyahu said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefs a delegation of ambassadors to the United Nations, at a helipad at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on February 3, 2019. (RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP)

“We are committed to preventing this aggression, and in so doing we’re not only protecting Israel itself, but also protecting our neighbors and world peace.”

Lebanese political factions agreed finally Thursday on the formation of a new government, breaking a nine-month deadlock that only deepened the country’s economic woes.

Rival political groups have been locked in disagreement over the make-up of a new government since May, after the country’s first parliamentary elections in nine years.

The breakthrough came after rival factions worked out a compromise allowing representation of Sunni lawmakers backed by the powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.

The new government will be headed by Saad Hariri, the Sunni politician who headed the outgoing government since 2016. The post always goes to a Sunni politician under the country’s political system.

The government also sees an increase in the number of ministries affiliated with Hezbollah, which is under tightening sanctions from the United States that labels the group a terrorist organization. The group made significant gains in last year’s Parliament elections while Hariri’s block lost a third of its seats.

AP contributed to this report


Iran said to put ‘guided warheads’ on missiles that can reach Israel 

February 4, 2019

Source: Iran said to put ‘guided warheads’ on missiles that can reach Israel | The Times of Israel

State media says the new Khoramshahr 2 is highly accurate and can carry two-ton payloads up to 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) 

This picture taken on September 22, 2018 shows the long-range Iranian missile “Khoramshahr” being shown during the annual military parade marking the anniversary of the outbreak of the devastating 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, in the capital Tehran. (AFP PHOTO / STR)

Iran has equipped its most advanced, longest-range missiles, which can hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf, with new precision guided warheads, state media reported Sunday.

According to the unsourced report in the Fars news agency, the new home-made guided warheads have now been attached to the Khoramshahr, a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles.)

“The new generation of missiles with guided warheads has been named Khoramshahr 2 and they can be controlled until hitting the target and are able to carry warheads weighing nearly 2 tons,” the report said.

It said that the new warheads had previously been mounted on the shorter range Emad, Qadr and Qiam missiles.

The first generation of Khoramshahr was unveiled in 2017.  Iran says all of its missiles are designed to carry conventional warheads only and has limited their range to a maximum of 2,000 kilometers, although commanders say they have the technology to go further.

That makes them only medium-range but still sufficient to reach Israel or US bases in the Gulf.

The report comes a day after Iran said it had successful fired a new long-range cruise missile, amid events marking 40 years since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The missile, dubbed Hoveyzeh, was described as a high-precision weapon capable of flying at low altitudes and able to carry a significant payload up to a distance of 1,200 kilometers (840 miles.)

Embedded video

Tasnim News Agency


Iran has been known to exaggerate the capabilities of its weaponry, and there was no independent confirmation of Tehran’s claims.

In December, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of testing a medium-range ballistic missile capable of “carrying multiple warheads,” which he said could strike “anywhere” in the Middle East and even parts of Europe.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the press after attending the U.N. Security Council at United Nations Headquarters, Jan. 26, 2019 (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

In a statement, Pompeo said the missile test violated United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program and bans Iranian tests of nuclear-capable ballistic weapons.

“As we have been warning for some time, Iran’s missile testing and missile proliferation is growing. We are accumulating risk of escalation in the region if we fail to restore deterrence,” Pompeo said.

He also called on Iran to “cease immediately all activities” related to the development of ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.

The statement from Pompeo came just days after a top Iranian general claimed US military personnel and assets in the Middle East are within range of his country’s missiles.

Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the air division for the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said improvements to Iran’s missile arsenal had put US bases in Qatar, the UAE, and Afghanistan within reach, as well as US aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“They are within our reach and we can hit them if the [Americans] make a move,” he said, according to a translation of his remarks carried by Reuters.

In this picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Aug. 13, 2018, Defense Minister Gen. Amir Hatami walks past the missile Fateh-e Mobin, or Bright Conqueror, during inauguration of its production line at an undisclosed location, Iran (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Hajizadeh said the missiles had been outfitted with improved precision capabilities, making it possible to hit targets over 500 kilometers away to within 30 meters accuracy.

Although there are no restrictions in place on the range of Iranian missiles, US President Donald Trump had insisted that limitations be placed on Tehran’s missile program, as a prerequisite for Washington remaining in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He ultimately pulled out of it on May 12.

The US and its allies have been demanding that Iran curb its production of ballistic missiles, which can reach parts of Europe and could soon reach the US as well. Western officials have maintained that the only reason Tehran could have for manufacturing such missiles would be to fit them with non-conventional, including atomic, warheads.

Tehran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, insists that it sees the missile program as crucial to its defensive posture, and says its existence is non-negotiable. It has also maintained that it never intended to develop nuclear weapons and therefore its missile development does not violate the agreement.

In this photo provided November 5, 2018, by the Iranian Army, a Sayyad 2 missile is fired by the Talash air defense system during drills in an undisclosed location in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented evidence which he says details Iranian efforts and research programs specifically aimed at producing atomic weapons. In a Mossad operation, Israel earlier this year spirited out a trove of Iranian documentation from Tehran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Netanyahu said proved conclusively that Iran is lying when it says it has not been working toward a nuclear weapons arsenal.

Agencies contributed to this report