April 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Shoots Down Iranian Drone Launched from Syria

April 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Shoots Down Iranian Drone Launched from Syria

Latest Developments

Israel on Sunday shot down an Iranian drone that flew into its airspace from Syria, just hours after Israel’s air force struck several targets in Syria’s Homs province. The developments follow additional Israeli air strikes against Syria on Thursday and on Friday, the latter of which killed two officers in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Without confirming Israel’s role in the air strikes, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “When necessary, we will push [Iranian forces] out of Syria to where they belong — and that is Iran.” Israel’s attacks constitute its ninth set of air strikes against Syria this year.

Expert Analysis

“The regime in Tehran wants to turn Syria and Lebanon into bases for aggression against Israel. When Iran’s supreme leader says he wants to destroy the Jewish state, that is not a metaphor or an exaggeration. To achieve that goal, Tehran and its proxies need bases on Israel’s borders. Tehran also needs to arm its proxies with sufficiently advanced weapons to penetrate Israel’s air defenses. This time it didn’t work, but Hezbollah’s arsenal of drones and precision-guided munitions is advancing rapidly.” David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

Iran’s Enduring Support for the Syrian Regime

Iran continues to fund, train, and deploy Shiite militias to fight on behalf of the Bashar al-Assad regime. This includes major deployments by Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani Shiite militias. No precise estimates are available, but the number of fighters likely exceeds 10,000 at any given time. Tehran has also dispatched IRGC officers to command and supervise the militias.

Iran Arms Hezbollah Through Syria

Though their targets vary, the majority of Israeli air strikes in Syria is aimed at Hezbollah-bound precision-guided munitions (PGM). The Israeli government claims PGMs are “game changing,” as they significantly upgrade Hezbollah’s “statistical rockets” that lack precision. Hezbollah’s current arsenal includes an estimated 150,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles, most of which are inaccurate short-range rockets. But Tehran can adjust PGMs’ trajectory mid-air, and they strike with much enhanced accuracy.

Israel also seeks to destroy drones sent by Tehran. Hezbollah may possess as many as 2,000 drones, according to a 2021 estimate by the Alma Research and Education Center.

Related Analysis

Iranian Military Adviser Killed in Israeli Strike in Syria,” FDD Flash Brief

The Quiet War between Israel and Iran,” by Jonathan Schanzer

PGMs: Iran’s Precision-Guided Munitions Project in the Shadow of a Nuclear Deal,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Lebanon Syria