Israel's outgoing military chief of staff reflected that "we operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago. And then we noticed a significant change in Iran's strategy. Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters... they built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syria air base". Referring to IRGC Qods force commander Qasem Soleimani, Gadi Eisenkot assessed that "his error was choosing a playground where he is relatively weak... we have strong deterrence and we have justification to act". "The force we faced over the last two years was a determined force", Eisenkot continued, "but not very impressive in its capabilities". He went on to add that "as we push [the Iranians] in Syria, they transfer their efforts to Iraq".
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