n recent months, Israel-Iran tensions have evolved from covert and proxy battles to direct confrontations. Early Monday, Israel targeted the Syrian regime’s T-4 military air base in Homs, killing at least seven Iranian personnel. One of the fatalities was a colonel with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), responsible for overseeing Iran’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit. The IRGC ordered Iranian state-affiliated media outlets to retract articles describing the incident.
Iran’s drone program is a growing threat to Israeli national security. The Islamic Republic is assisting its terrorist proxies – mainly Hizballah and Hamas – in acquiring and developing sophisticated drones to challenge Israel. Militant drones have been used to test Israel’s air defenses and conduct surveillance over sensitive sites. In 2014, Hizballah reportedly was the first terrorist group to utilize an attack drone to kill rival militants in Syria and continues to incorporate aerial capabilities in its offensive operations.
Now, bypassing its proxies, Iran directly challenges Israel through its UAV program. In early February, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated Israel’s airspace. Israeli jets subsequently bombed several military targets in Syria, including some under Iranian control. In the process, Syrian air defenses downed an Israeli jet – the first time an Israeli military aircraft had been taken out by enemy fire since the 1980s.
That escalation marks the first direct confrontation between Israeli and Iranian forces. Iran may have been provoking an Israeli response, demonstrating a growing willingness to use Syria as a base to challenge Israel directly.