On Sunday night, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) hit Iranian bases inside of Syria with airstrikes. Syrian air defense units have claimed to have shot down one of the missiles launched from Israeli aircraft outside of Aqraba. No casualty figures have been released.
Both media and civilians have also reported that explosions could be heard outside of Homs, where an Iranian base is located. Explosions could also be heard in Damascus.
The Syrians have accused the Israelis of using Lebanon’s airspace when conducting airstrikes in Syria. Witnesses on the ground in Lebanon have reported hearing Israeli aircraft flying overhead during the attack.
The Israeli news site Ynet, citing a report from the Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon, reported that the Israeli airstrike targeted arms warehouses in the suburb of Sayyidah Zaynab south of Damascus.
“Air defenses have confronted hostile missiles coming from the direction of the occupied lands,” SANA, the official news agency of Syria, stated. “There are reports of one of the hostile targets being taken down in the Aqraba area in the rural parts of Damascus,” the report added.
Syrian officials reportedly said to the press that the IDF launched four cruise missiles from Lebanese airspace into Syria during the attack.
As per their standard operating procedure, the IDF and the government refused to comment on any airstrike or operation that is attributed to them by the foreign media, unless they are responding to an attack on Israel.
According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were three explosions in the Damascus suburbs after the missiles targeted “Syrian regime and Iranian positions.” They added that ambulances were observed heading toward where the missiles struck.
Israel has made it clear that it will not accept Iranian bases on its borders, and that any attack on Israeli territory will be met with force.
Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria in the past few years. Just last month it conducted a large operation, which targeted dozens of Iranian bases, weapons depots, and missile launchers. The operation was in retaliation to a missile attack on the Golan Heights undertaken by Iranian-led proxy militias.
Iran has numerous forces and proxy militias in Syria. It also supports Hamas in Gaza. (Just on Thursday, the IDF responded with airstrikes to a rocket fired from Gaza that landed in the Israeli town of Sderot. However, that rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.)
Also in November, a pinpoint IDF airstrike killed Bahu Abu al-Attan, a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and his wife. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an Iran-backed group in the Gaza Strip. This operation set off two days of violence with retaliatory rocket fire and resultant airstrikes.
According to SANA, government officials said that another Israeli airstrike in Damascus targeted another Islamic Jihad commander, Akram al-Ajouri. However, al-Ajouri was not harmed, but his son and granddaughter were killed when three missiles struck their home.
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