While order was being restored in Washington and international attention was focused on the events that were playing out in the American capital, the violence in Syria continued. On Wednesday night, the Israelis conducted another airstrike at approximately 11 p.m. against Iranian-proxy militias inside of Syria. This was the third such airstrike attributed to Israel in the past two weeks.
Syrian state-run television SANA stated that the attacks originated from the Golan Heights and struck several different targets around the area of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, and around the town of al-Dimas to the west. It added that Syrian air defenses shot down “most of the missiles,” while explosions were heard over the skies of Damascus.
“The Israeli enemy carried out an air attack by means of a barrage of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan on some targets in the southern region,” SANA said citing military sources.
The targeted areas have housed bases of Iranian forces and Iranian-proxy militia, including Hezbollah. Both areas have been targeted by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in the past.
The Times of Israel reported that a large delegation of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members visited the bases just two days before the airstrikes.
The opposition-affiliated Halab Today TV reported that more than five strikes targeted sites near the First Division of the Syrian military in the al-Kiswah area, south of Damascus. Weapons depots, observation points, and radars of the First Division were destroyed, killing eight members of the regime’s military forces, the station added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-watchdog of the Syrian Civil War, stated that the IAF targeted a radar system battalion in Al-Suwaidaa, other Syrian military units, and Iranian forces and their proxy militias that are known to operate in the area.
SOHR added that for the first time in several months Syrian air defenses were indeed able to shoot down several of the incoming missiles (Syria had dubiously claimed to have done so in the past). According to SOHR, the attack killed three people, two of them in the al-Kiswah area and one in the radar system battalion in Al-Suwaidaa. More than a dozen people were injured, some seriously. A radar system was also destroyed west of Sweida along with weapons depots south of Damascus.
Last week, a purported Israeli airstrike had targeted the border area between Syria and Lebanon hitting a suspected weapons smuggling route used by the Iranians to move missiles to Hezbollah’s forces close to the Israeli border. Weapons factories and warehouses in Masyaf where four buildings were also hit. Masyaf has been targeted by the IAF several times during the civil war.
Masyaf is a significant area not only for Iranian forces and their militias but also for the Syrian regime. The area houses a military academy and a scientific research center.
Israel had acknowledged last week’s airstrike, as is its policy for the majority of matters outside its borders.
Aviv Kochavi, Israeli Defense Forces’ chief of staff, had said in December that missile strikes had “slowed down Iran’s entrenchment in Syria.”
“We have struck over 500 targets this year, on all fronts, in addition to multiple clandestine missions,” Kochavi had said in comments published in Israeli media.