The Israeli warning to Bashar Assad’s regime

Israel attacked the headquarters of General Maher al-Assad, the commander of Division 4 of the Syrian army and the brother of President Bashar al-Assad, to warn the Syrian regime that it will not tolerate rocket fire from Syrian territory at Israel. Israel is considering attacking the drug production and marketing project headed by Maher al-Assad if the attacks from Syrian territory continue.


Israel responded to the firing of rockets from Syria towards the Golan Heights on April 8 with artillery strikes and drones aimed at the areas from which the rockets were launched towards Israel. 

The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen channel, the mouthpiece of the Hezbollah organization, reported that it was the Jerusalem Brigade militia that took responsibility for launching the rockets towards Israel. 

The Jerusalem Brigade is a Palestinian militia subordinate to the Syrian army that is trained by advisors of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Syrian regime probably knew in advance of its intention to launch rockets towards Israel.  

Then Israeli Air Force planes attacked a Syrian army radar in the Damascus capital area and the headquarters of the Syrian 4th Division headed by General Maher Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad.  

Senior political officials said that Israel tried to convey a message to President Bashar Assad, by attacking the targets of Division 4, that it would not accept the firing of rockets from Syrian territory at Israel by Palestinian factions and by Iranian militias, and that the Syrian regime bears responsibility for all firing from Syrian territory because it is the sovereign of the country. 

It seems that Israel is trying to drive a wedge between the Syrian regime and Iran, General Maher al-Assad has close ties with Iran and Hezbollah, the Israeli attack on the 4th Division that he commands is intended to warn him that Israel can also harm the large drug trafficking project that he heads and which is considered one of the important sources of income of the Syrian regime which is subject to severe sanctions of the Western countries. 

According to publications in the “New York Times” newspaper and the “Der Spiegel” newspaper, the Assad regime’s income from drugs in 2021 reached the amount of 5.7 billion dollars.  

According to American sources, the most senior members of the Syrian regime are involved in the production and trade of drugs, led by General Maher Al-Assad, the president’s brother and the commander of Division 4 known as the Syrian 

Pablo Escobar.  

Maher Al-Assad is responsible for the production of the Captagon drug together with Syrian businessmen and senior members of the Hezbollah organization and other members of President Assad’s family.  

Syria has always been a country through which drugs passed on their way to other countries in the Middle East, but in recent years it has become the main producer of the drug, especially since 2013 following the severe economic crisis, as of 2018 it has become the largest producer of the Captagon drug.  

In 2019, a large shipment of the  Captagon drug, for which General Maher Alasad was responsible, worth 660 million dollars, was seized in Greece, while a huge shipment of drugs worth a billion dollars was seized in Italy. 

Syria is suffering from a severe economic crisis because of the civil war that broke out in 2011 and because of the sanctions imposed on it by Western countries and the loss of its oil fields. 

The Hezbollah organization is also suffering from a major financial crisis due to the Western countries’ sanctions on Iran, which is its biggest financier. 

In the absence of legitimate sources of income, the drug trade has become a strategic option for Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In the last year, drug shipments originating in Syria worth 3.4 billion dollars were confiscated worldwide, the Syrian regime also trades in arms smuggling, prostitution and antiquities smuggling. 

The drug smuggling is done through the border between Syria and Jordan in the south of the country and causes great tension in the relations between the Syrian regime and the Hashemite Kingdom, the smuggling is done through the Syrian army and the pro-Iranian militias. 

Jordan plays an important role in smuggling, its northern territory serves as the gateway for the drug to the Gulf countries and the Far East countries. 

King Abdullah of Jordan is very concerned about the phenomenon and requested the assistance of the American administration. 

Russia reduced its military presence in Syria because of the war in Ukraine and the Iranian influence in Syria is increasing and the Iranian militias are also spreading to new areas. 

However, security officials  in Israel doubt whether the Israeli attacks that took place yesterday on military targets of the 4th Division are sufficient to convey the message to the Syrian regime. 

A senior political official says that Israel needs to hit the pockets of President Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher al-Assad so that the Israeli message is better understood, that is, damage to the production and marketing project of the Captagon drug, which is one of the main mechanisms for financing the Syrian regime. 

At the rate at which the Syrian regime is implementing the Iranian policy, Israel may also soon damage this project to convey the message to the Assad family. 

Yoni Ben Menachem Senior Middle East Analyst

About Yoni Ben Menachem

Yoni Ben Menachem is a Middle East senior analyst ,a journalist and
the former CEO of the Israel Broadcasting Authority(IBA). He has
decades of experience in written and video journalism. Ben
Menachem’s path in the media world began as a producer for
Japanese television in the Middle East. After that, he held many key
positions in the media The Israeli: CEO of the Israel Broadcasting
Authority, director of “Kol Israel” Radio, reporter on West Bank and
Gaza Strip affairs, political reporter and commentator, commentator
on Middle East affairs and editor-in-chief and presenter of the
program “Middle East Magazine”. 

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