The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday gave additional information about its bombing of Iranian Quds Force in Syria, alleging that the drones that Iran intended to use against the Jewish state on Saturday night had been flown into Syria from Tehran several weeks ago.
The IDF chief of staff said the drones were accompanied by Iranian military officials, who would act as advisers.
The plan was overseen by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, the IDF chief of staff said, according to a report by The Times of Israel.
The statement by the military came as the death toll in the Israeli raids on Saturday night climbed to five, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
According to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, four members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force were sent to Syria to form a team that would fly explosive-laden kamikaze drones into targets in northern Israel.
“Each one of these attack drones would carry several kilograms of explosives,” he said.
Conricus said the military has been monitoring the Iranian plot for “a number of weeks.”
When the IDF spotted the Iran-led team — made up of the four IRGC advisers and Shiite militiamen — moving to launch the drones on Saturday night, the Israeli Air Force took action and bombed their base.
“Thanks to a substantial intelligence effort, an Iranian attack was thwarted and harm to Israel was prevented,” the head of Military Intelligence Tamir Heyman said in a statement.
Conricus said forces had been put on high alert near the Syrian frontier after the attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said an Iranian combatant and two fighters for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah were among the fatalities in the strike, along with at least two others whose identities are not yet known.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi said Sunday IRGC commander Soleimani orchestrated the Iranian plan.
“The person who led this attack and commanded it was Qassem Soleimani personally. He funded, coached and trained Shiite operatives, who were supposed to carry it out,” Kohavi said in a video of a meeting in the IDF Northern Command late Saturday night, released by the military. The army chief warned that the military must “prepare for any eventuality,” as Iran may retaliate to the Israeli strikes.
Last Thursday, the Quds Force-backed cell first tried to fly these attack drones into northern Israel from the Syrian village Erneh, near the Israeli Golan Heights, but this effort was blocked by the Israeli military, the IDF spokesman said.