Syrian state media outlet SANA reported on Thursday that Israeli jets flying over Lebanese airspace hit military targets in northwestern Hama province. This is the latest airstrike against Iranian troops and their installations.
Earlier Syrian state media reported that Syrian army air defenses thwarted a missile attack on Misyaf city in northwestern Hama province. However, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that nine people were killed in the airstrike. At least four were Syrian nationals that may have been working for the Iranians at the location. The death toll from this latest attack is expected to rise due to the injuries sustained by the casualties.
The latest Israeli airstrikes targeted four Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) defense factories which manufacture surface-to-surface missiles, according to the Step News Agency. The airstrikes also destroyed weapons depots.
Iranian-backed proxy militias have long been based around Misyaf. They have been part of a large Iranian proxy presence which has been operating in the country since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. Both Syrian and Iranian troops are generally present at the targeted site, according to SOHR.
As is its customary practice, Israel declined to confirm or deny that Israel conducted the airstrike.
In the past few months, the Israeli Air Force has stepped up its air raids on Iranian targets in Syria. The Misyaf area, in particular, has frequently been targeted. The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which is also located in Misyaf, has been targeted by Israel in the past. SSRC produces chemical weapons.
A month ago Israeli airstrikes targeted another SSRC research center and military base in Aleppo. That site is also reportedly used for the development of missiles and chemical weapons.
Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria have increased as Israel has made it very clear that it will not tolerate Iranian bases close to its territory. And since the products of missile and chemical weapons manufacturing facilities will no doubt be used against Israel, their manufacturing facilities constitute prime targets for the Israeli Air Force. Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the Civil War began.
Recently intelligence professionals from the West and the Israeli Defense Forces IDF have stated that they see signs that the Iranians are slowly withdrawing their forces from Syria. That assertion has been denied by Iranian analysts, who said that Tehran is just changing tactics. Mostafa Najafi an Iranian analyst told Ebtekar Daily News, “Iran changes its tactics to avoid retreating from its strategies. This is an inseparable part of Iran’s strategy in the region.”
Najafi added that Iran changed tactics earlier to ease their proxies from being hit with airstrikes: The 53,000 Iranian-backed militia members simply switched their uniforms and merged into the Syrian army.
The statement of Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the new speaker of the Iranian parliament adds more credence to the change of tactics argument. Ghalibaf announced in his first speech that his government will respond proportionally to U.S. threats and attacks instead of negotiating with Washington, and that it will be more forceful against the U.S.
“The eleventh parliament believes that negotiating and compromising with the U.S., which is the main pillar of global arrogance, is fruitless and full of harm,” Ghalibaf, who was a former commander in the IRGC said.