The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) completed an investigation on a suspected attack on their troops from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
They published photos of Hezbollah operatives working with Syrian soldiers to carry out this attack.
IDF investigators said the planned attack was to take place near the village of Hader in the province of Qunietra. The IDF statement said that in the weeks leading up to the planned attack, IDF intelligence units identified suspicious movements by both Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers in sensitive locations in the area. “[This] indicated the planning of an attack.”
Israel added that the operatives were seen filming the border with smartphones and professional cameras while measuring wind speed with an anemometer.
These are common actions taken to identify potential targets and improve a sniper’s accuracy. Winds, temperature, and humidity all can have an effect on the path and drop of a long-range sniper shot. Hezbollah and Syrian troops were trying to make the first shots as accurate as possible before the Israelis could react.
IDF helicopter gunships fired rockets and blew up a pickup truck in which a sniper team was located.
“When there was an operational opportunity, the car being used by the cell was attacked by an IDF helicopter,” IDF’s statement read. “The IDF has an ongoing campaign against the Hezbollah terrorist organization on the Golan Heights and acts by various means to thwart terrorist attacks on the State of Israel. The State of Israel sees Syria, the sovereign, as responsible for all that happens in its territory.” This last sentence is a veiled threat at the Syrians that Israel will respond again if Hezbollah plans any other actions.
The Syrian state-run news agency SANA claimed that Israeli forces fired a missile at a civilian vehicle “in the suburbs of Quneitra.” However, the U.K.-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the vehicle hit by a missile from an IDF helicopter belonged to members of a militia loyal to the Syrian regime.
The Israeli military investigation was conducted by the head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, who was assisted by the commander of the Golan Division, Brig. Gen. Amit Fisher.
Videos from social media showed the helicopter first firing flares and then a missile. Photos from the scene showed a small white pickup truck in flames after the airstrike.
Generally, the Israelis don’t respond one way or another in regard to airstrikes in Syria, however, at times they’ve acknowledged many airstrikes on Syrian targets since the civil war began in 2011. Most of the targets have been against Iran or its proxy militia forces. But they’ve occasionally hit Syrian air defense units when they’ve fired at IDF aircraft.
The Israeli government has frequently stated that it will not stand for an Iranian base on the Israeli borders especially in the Syrian Golan Heights. The government entered into an agreement with Russia that was supposed to keep Iranian Quds Force and Iranian-proxy militias, including Hezbollah, many miles away from the Israeli border.
The Israelis are monitoring Hezbollah’s “Golan Project” that is based in Damascus and Beirut. Hezbollah has numerous operatives operating in Hadar, Quinetra, and Erneh who collect intelligence on Israel and its military movements in the Golan Heights.
The Hezbollah unit has weapons that amassed from the Syrian civil war and can be resupplied by Quds Forces or other Hezbollah sources in Lebanon or Iran.
The Israeli evidence against Hezbollah in this particular case was pretty compelling. But will the foiling of this attack stop Hezbollah from attempting further action? Not at all.