Just days after a rare daytime airstrike against Hezbollah fighters in Damascus on Saturday, the Israeli Air Force reportedly carried out missile strikes against Iranian proxy militias in the Zakia region outside of Damascus.

Syrian News site SANA reported that surface-to-surface missiles launched from northern Israel struck the Zakia region and caused only “material damage” shortly after 1 a.m. on Wednesday. It gave no reports on casualties or details on the targets hit.

“The Israeli enemy launched an aerial aggression with a number of missiles,” SANA news quoted a military source as saying. SANA made no mention of any air defense missiles being fired. 

Official Syrian sources frequently claim to have shot down the majority of missiles launched against them. 

Israel did not comment on the strikes, as per its usual policy. It has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian targets since the Syrian Civil War began more than a decade ago.

The Capital Post claims that the Israelis targets included a weapons storehouse and a base for the Iranian militias. According to the report, the entire storehouse and its weapons were destroyed. The weapons had recently been transferred to the storehouse.

Israeli missile strike in Syria
Israeli missile strike in Syria in February. (Syrian Observatory of Human Rights)

The missile strike also hit a vehicle carrying Hezbollah leaders, and an air defense missile battery, according to the report. 

The use of surface-to-surface missiles, in lieu of aircraft launched missiles, could be explained due to a recent meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a staunch ally of Assad’s regime.

Russia has supplied much of Damascus’s air defense systems. It has been reported that to avoid embarrassing Russia and its military technology, Israel reportedly agreed to rely less on airstrikes, which have repeatedly defeated the Russian batteries.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K-based watchdog on the civil war in the country, reported that Saturday’s daylight strike targeted advanced weaponry and ammunition depots belonging to Hezbollah, Iranian forces, and Syrian allied militias. According to SOHR, the attack killed at least five pro-Iranian fighters and wounded others. The nationalities of the people killed were not immediately known.

Surface-to-surface missile strikes were also reported in the areas of al-Dimas, Qudsaya, and al-Mezzah military airbase west of Damascus.

The Israelis have made it clear that they will not accept Iranian bases or Iranian-led proxy militias on their borders. According to Israeli detailed intelligence, arms shipments from Iran to Syria and Lebanon have been transported near the Golan Heights. Isreal frequently targets these shipments as they arrive at arms warehouses. 

Iranian militia base in Syria satelite photograph
Iranian militia base in Syria. Such bases are frequently attacked by Israeli air forces. (File photo)

Back in mid-October, after an Israeli airstrike killed a number of Iranian proxy militia members, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime issued a statement warning that they had decided to respond harshly to the airstrikes, according to a Hezbollah-affiliated media release.

Insisting that their purpose was to assist Syria in fighting “terrorists” and ISIS, the released statement warned that they will respond harshly to further attacks.

“For years, we have been subjected to attacks from the Israeli and American enemy in an attempt to drag us into side battles that were not a priority for our presence in Syria, and the Zionists’ excuse was that they were targeting accurate weapons and sensitive equipment that posed a threat to their usurping entity,” read the joint statement.