For the second time in a week, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft have struck Iranian military members and their proxy militias south of Damascus. Eight Iranian-led proxy militia members were killed in the airstrikes according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based watchdog on the Syrian civil war. The nationalities of the dead were not immediately known.
SOHR added that the attacks targeted an arms depot and positions held by Hezbollah’s Southern Headquarters and Iranian forces.
The airstrikes commenced just after midnight on Wednesday one unnamed Syrian military official said to the media.
“At exactly 11:50 pm… the Zionist enemy launched an air raid from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights towards southern Damascus,” resulting in ‘material losses’, ” the military source said.
Reports from Syrian state-run television SANA and Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV said that Israeli aircraft struck a village in Quneitra province on the edge of the Golan Heights and southwest of Damascus. SANA reported that Syrian anti-aircraft defenses responded to the attack.
While the television reports offered few details, sources on the ground told the media that the Israelis targeted the military base in Jabal Mane Heights near the town of Kiswa, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have been based for quite some time. The base is located about 10 miles south of the center of Damascus.
Syrian anti-aircraft missiles are stationed in the area to defend the Golan Heights along the border with Israel, the military sources said. The area has frequently been the target of IAF airstrikes as this is where the most Hezbollah and Iranian forces are located.
The Syrian government has steadfastly denied that there are any Iranian troops inside its borders, but only Iranian advisors. Yet, the presence of Iran’s Hezbollah proxies is considered much larger than previously thought. It is now believed that Hezbollah has 58 different sites in the southern Syrian provinces of Quneitra and Daraa, where the terror group’s Southern Command and Golan Project are located.
The Iranians have increased their presence in eastern Syria around the strategic province of Deir el-Zour, particularly in areas along the border with Iraq. Flooding the region with thousands of foreign and local proxy militia members, Iran’s IRGC has consolidated its hold over a large territory in Syria since the beginning of the country’s civil war in 2011.
Iranian-led troops control the areas west of the Euphrates river, while the U.S-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), control those to the east. The move to push the SDF out of eastern Syria will strengthen Iranian presence in Iraq and allow it to create the land bridge it seeks to ship weapons, missiles, and drones from Iran through Syria to the Golan Heights bordering Israel.
The Israelis have frequently said that they will not tolerate an Iranian presence on their borders. The Israeli government views Iran’s military presence in Syria as a threat to its national security. It has continuously carried out strikes against Iranian targets in eastern Syria and elsewhere in Syria since the civil war began.
While they normally do not comment on airstrikes, last week the Israelis acknowledged that airstrikes hit eight targets from the Golan Heights to Damascus. Among the targets were an Iranian military complex near the Damascus International Airport, a military barracks which acts as a housing complex for senior Iranian officials, a command post for Division 7 of the Syrian army, which cooperates with the Iranian Quds Force, and mobile surface-to-air missile trucks that had fired at Israeli aircraft during the airstrikes.