The Israeli military conducted a targeted strike that killed a senior Hezbollah officer inside Syria.
For the past weeks, Syria has been a relentless hotbed of violence. Government troops backed by Russian airstrikes are attempting to oust the rebels from the final stronghold in Idlib province. Last week, the Syrians launched a missile strike at Turkish troops supporting the rebels and over 33 Turkish soldiers were killed. The Russians sent two warships into the Mediterranean. The Turks, seeking assistance from NATO, are threatening to unleash millions of Syrian refugees currently inTurkey into Europe.
Meanwhile, the Iranians continue their attempts to put a permanent base on the border with Israel and try to get a foothold on the Golan Heights. On Thursday, the Israelis made multiple missile strikes on the Syrian side of the border, in Quneitra, wounding three Syrian soldiers and killing a top Hezbollah official, who reportedly was in charge of trying to get the Iranians a base on the border.
The Syrian official news service SANA originally reported that the man killed in a drone strike on his car was a civilian. Other Syrian news media reported that the man was a Syrian policeman. They later changed the reports to state that the man was a Syrian military officer.
SANA posted a statement that said, “Israeli occupation helicopters fired rockets at Syrian Army points in Al-Qahtaniyah, Al-Hurriyah, and the liberated city of Al-Quneitra, causing three injuries to the soldiers.”
The dead man was identified as Aymad al-Tawil. Israeli military sources told the media that Tawil was a Hezbollah operative setting up Iranian-led cells in Syria aimed at launching cross-border attacks at Israel.
The Israelis, as is their policy on most airstrikes, did not comment; however, with some of the missiles coming from helicopters over the Golan Heights, it is highly unlikely that anyone but the IDF conducted the attack. Earlier in the week, Israeli officials confirmed that they had struck several Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza and in Syria outside of Damascus.
The Israelis have made it clear that they will not tolerate an Iranian presence on their borders and have frequently conducted airstrikes on Iranian led proxies or Iranian forces setting up inside Syria.
The Israelis announced last March that they had exposed a clandestine Hezbollah unit that was operating in southern Syria in the area near the border with Israel. This Hezbollah unit is commanded by Ali Musa Daqduq, who is a wanted terrorist in the United States for attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. He was described by the U.S. government as a “commander of a Hezbollah special forces unit and chief of a protective detail for Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.”Hezbollah established this unit to create another front against Israel from the Golan on top of the group’s substantial presence in Lebanon.
The Golan File is headquartered in Damascus and Beirut and has dozens of operatives in the Syrian towns of Khadr, Quneitra, and Erneh, who collect intelligence on IDF’s movement on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. They are establishing intelligence-gathering capabilities against the Israelis, and are operating from civilian observation posts and regime military positions near the border.