Even as the details of of the "most violent" air-raids in Syria carried out by Israel targeting Iranian assets are still emerging, there are speculations rife that suggest that an all-out covert war may just have been launched against Iran.
The most suggestive of this has been the timing of the air-raids, the blackouts in Iran and the statement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling Iran the new home base of Al Qaeda.
"Al-Qaeda has a new home base. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said in a speech at the National Press Club.
"I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan â as the key geographic hub for al-Qaeda â but it's actually worse," he said. "Unlike in Afghanistan, when al-Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, al-Qaeda today is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime's protection."
The question now is how far the US is ready to go after Iran announced that it is stepping up uranium enrichment to 20 per cent, closer than ever to bomb-grade material.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Mullah regime is also anticipating a major escalation. Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a statement said that his government based on intelligence inputs believes that Israel is trying to provoke a war between the US and Iran before Trump leaves office.
'Most Violent' Air Raids
It is now emerging that Israel carried out the raids based on intelligence shared by US agencies to target Iranian proxies and to cut a route that was being used by the Iranians for smuggling components for their nuclear program.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz citing a US source called the raids a rarely publicized cooperation between the two partner countries.
According to Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 57 people were killed in the strikes, mostly Iranian proxies in Deir Ezzour, Mayadeen and Al-Boukamal.
Besides the Syrian soldiers, the casualties largely include members of Iran-backed proxies part of Kataib Hezbollah and IRGC trained groups called Fatemiyoun, recruited from Pakistan and Afghan Shi'ites, reported The Jerusalem Post.
Meanwhile, there also have reports of a widespread power outage inside Iran. Videos posted on social media showed streets and highways with vehicles plying the dark due to the blackout across several cities in the country.
A YouTube video claimed that blackouts in Iran have led to the shut down of traffic lights and thousands of citizens were facing a crisis as the outage affected the heating systems as well.