Israel allegedly launched airstrikes in Damascus, Syria against Iranian positions and missile shipments. This comes as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are stepping up their attempts to keep Iran from forming a presence on Israel’s borders and from shipping missiles and rockets to its proxy militias.

The latest airstrikes targeted Iranian troop concentrations at El-Kisweh, a suburb of Damascus, and outside Damascus’s airport from where the Iranians are shipping armaments to their militias. 

The Syrian state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), reported that “the Israeli enemy launched an aggression with waves of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan and al-Jalil on a number of targets in the surroundings of Damascus City.”

An unnamed military source said that “our air defenses intercepted the missiles and downed most of them.” However, most analysts believe that the number of missiles intercepted is greatly exaggerated by the Syrian regime.

The Syrian military released a statement stating that “our air defenses are continuing to repel the Israeli missile attacks over the skies of the capital.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based Syrian civil war monitor reported that “nine pro-Iranian militiamen were killed in Israeli airstrikes on positions and warehouses, west and southwest of the capital Damascus, they are: two were killed by shelling hit the area of Al-Kiswa, and seven were killed by shelling hit Iranian rocket depots within the headquarters of the 4th Division in the mountains around Damascus-Beirut road, known as “old Beirut road.”

SOHR’s sources also reported that Israeli airstrikes also destroyed sophisticated missile depots that Iran had recently transferred to the headquarters of the Syrian 4th Division on the Damascus-Beirut road.

The Israeli military which was holding a no-notice Air Force combat drill as part of its Northern Front “[will] not comment on foreign reports” according to a military spokeswoman.

IDF’s denial to comment is in accordance with its policy to neither confirm nor deny its operations in Syria, except for those launched in retaliation for an attack emanating from Syria. Israel has on occasion, however, admitted to carrying out airstrikes on Iranian troop concentrations, weapons depots, and missile manufacturing facilities. 

Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate a large Iranian presence on its borders. Recently, the military, publicly admitted that it is updating plans on attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. And although the new administration in Washington is attempting to restart nuclear talks with Iran, the Israelis will continue to attempt to dislodge the Iranian presence from Syria.

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes against Iranian troops trying to establish a permanent military presence in the country and attempting to transport advanced, weapons and missiles to their proxies and terrorist groups including Hezbollah.

Earlier in February, the Israeli Air Force had conducted airstrikes on a convoy of vehicles loaded with weapons near Deir ez-Zor on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The convoy was destroyed as a result. Intelligence analysts believed the convoy of advanced weapons was on its way from Iran to western Syria.