An airstrike, reportedly conducted by the Israeli Air Force, struck several different sites in southern and eastern Syria on Tuesday. According to different reports, one of the targets hit by the Israelis was an Iranian arms shipment. So far, two Syrian soldiers have been reported killed and another four wounded in the airstrike. Iranian militia casualties were not mentioned.
Syria’s state news agency, SANA, quoted an unnamed military source that said the hostile aircraft came from east and northeast of Palmyra and fired several missiles towards Syrian military positions in Kobajjep, located in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria, and near As-Suwayda in southern Syria. Al-Arabiya News reported that the Iranians had made an arms shipment to their proxy militias in As-Suwayda.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based Syrian war watchdog reported that Iranian proxy militias based in As-Suwayda and Ghabagheb were targeted in the strikes. However, the SOHR did not mention the airstrikes in Deir Ezzor.
It is unclear why the Iranians chose to offload arms at As-Suwayda, which had not been an area they were known to operate in. However, there have been recent protests against the Syrian government there and at Kobajjep on the road between Deir Ezzor and Palmyra, which might explain the Iranian decision.
Another news site, Halab Today TV, reported that the airstrikes hit a radar site belonging to the Syrian military. The Jerusalem Post reported that the area where the air defenses hit is known as Tel al-Sahn, sometimes known as “radar dish hill.” In the past, Israel has hit Syrian air defense sites that have fired on its aircraft.
According to the news reports, Syrian air defenses were targeting drones during the night, which may have been the Israeli airstrike in question. SANA reported that government air defense units had responded to an airstrike, reportedly by Israel, in the eastern province of Deir al Zor bordering Iraq. The Turks also supposedly conducted a drone strike during the night, which no doubt added to the confusion within the Syrian command and control.
The Israelis did not comment on these latest airstrikes, something which is their normal modus operandi. However, they have admitted conducting hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the civil war began in 2011. They have frequently targeted bases, arms depots, and weapons manufacturing facilities belonging to Iranian forces or Iranian-backed militias. The Deir Ezzor area has been frequently targeted and has been heavily bombed during the past few years.
The Israelis have stated that they will not accept Iranian bases or massed troops anywhere near their border. And whenever the Iranians have tried to bring large arms shipments and missiles into Syria, they’ve been struck.
Earlier in June, another airstrike also attributed to the Israelis, hit defense factories near the city of Masyaf in northwest Syria killing nine people, according to reports from SOHR and the news media.
Israel has said that it will continue to step up its air campaign against Iran in Syria where with the help of its proxy militias Tehran has expanded its presence.
The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is being crippled financially by the latest U.S. sanctions, fresh protests are breaking out across the country, and there appears no end in sight for the suffering of the Syrian people.