Israel is maintaining pressure on Iranian-led units in Syria trying to establish bases near the Israeli border. It conducted two more air attacks on Friday after a deadly airstrike earlier this week.
In the first operation, a warehouse used by the terrorist group Hezbollah in Homs was reportedly struck by Israeli missiles just after midnight on Friday. Yet, the Syrians reported that the explosions heard at the warehouse were the result of ‘human error” as troops were moving ammunition.
However, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which monitors the ongoing civil war, said that Syrian missile defense systems were activated before the blasts. This would mean that Syrian air defenses were responding to a missile attack.
Ten civilians were wounded outside the warehouse according to eyewitness reports. There were no reports of injuries to any troops in the warehouse.
In the second operation, Israeli helicopters fired missiles at Iranian-led Hezbollah units in the Tel Ahmar area south of Quneitra in southern Syria. Syrian state-run television SANA said, “From the occupied Golan airspace, enemy Israeli helicopters attacked positions in the southern region with several missiles.” SANA reported that the missile strike outside of Quneitra caused “only material damage.”
In relation to this second attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) also noted that the Israeli attack helicopters hit three different sites that Hezbollah was using to set up bases along the border.
And earlier this week, an attack attributed to the Israeli Air Force blasted an Iranian base outside of Damascus. It resulted in the deaths of four Iranian militias. While just a week ago, another airstrike near the city of Palmyra in central Syria killed nine militia members, including six non-Syrians.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government, while publicly not commenting or taking responsibility for these air attacks, isn’t really denying them either. Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Defense Minister, all but confirmed them during an interview on Tuesday stating that the military was intent on driving the Iranians out of the country.
“We have moved from blocking Iran’s entrenchment in Syria to forcing it out of there, and we will not stop,” Bennett said in a statement.
“We will not allow more strategic threats to grow just across our borders without taking action,” he said. “We will continue to take the fight to the enemy’s territory.”
Iran has backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, during the civil war. It seeks to establish permanent bases, with Syrian’s blessing, along Israel’s northern borders. Israel has long maintained that it will not allow any permanent Iranian bases on its borders and has vowed to take military action in such an event. The Israelis are also trying to prevent Iran from providing Hezbollah with advanced weaponry, specifically precision-guided missiles.
With Israel conducting airstrikes on Iranian units and their proxies, the Syrians are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of success of their Russian-built air defense systems, notably the S-300. The system is largely ineffective against Israeli airstrikes, according to the Middle East Monitor.
Syrian military sources told the media that the radar used on the S-300 and the Pantsir-S systems has proven far too often to be incapable of detecting and hitting Israeli cruise missiles.