DEBKAfile (Mossad) 28 Apr. 2018: Mattis said he believes a military confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria is becoming increasingly likely. Israel “will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.” He flatly accused Iran of not only expanding and strengthening its presence in Syria but also “bringing advanced weapons for Hizballah through Syria.”
These comments had a sequel. On Friday, Pentagon officials disclosed that US satellites, surveillance aircraft, drones and ships had stepped up operations to monitor the movement of suspected Iranian anti-air and ballistic missiles inside Syria “due to rising concerns they could be used to strike Israel in the coming days.”
The US defense secretary had evidently bought Lieberman’s presentation, but his reaction disappointed Israel, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. He took with the utmost seriousness a possible Iranian or Hizballah attack on Israel in the coming days, but reacted by ordering the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier cruising opposite Syria to stay alert for this eventuality. The Trump administration clearly means to stay in the arena but is sticking to the decision to draw down the US troop presence in Syria, whatever may happen, while moving the center of US military operations instead to Iraq and the Mediterranean Sea.