On Friday, Syrian state-run news SANA reported that the Israelis conducted an airstrike in the suburbs outside of Aleppo in southern Syria. The target was the town of al-Safirah where the Syrians once had a major missile production facility. 

SANA quoted an unnamed military source who said that “at 1:30 am at dawn on Friday, the Zionist enemy launched an air aggression [sic] targeting the vicinity of Aleppo city with a number of missiles.”

The source added that “the army air defenses confronted the aggression and shot down the majority of the missiles.” However, the Syrian military always claims to shoot down the “majority” of incoming missiles and those boasts are generally ignored by the majority of military analysts. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the U.K.-based watchdog for the Syrian civil war, reported that its personnel heard loud explosions in Aleppo city and the surrounding countryside in the early hours of Friday morning. They said that the Israeli rocket attack, the fourth in the past month on Syrian territory, did in fact lost some missiles due to Syrian air defenses. SOHR’s report stated that the Israeli missiles hit the area of “Defense Factories” near al-Safirah in the eastern countryside of Aleppo, where Iranian-backed militias are located.

No casualties or material damage have been reported. 

On September 3, SOHR reported that supposed Israeli airstrikes pounded the positions of Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in the al-Thallathat area in al-Bokamal desert in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor. SOHR personnel on the ground documented the killing of nine Iranian-backed militia members; several others were wounded in this attack.

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Furthermore, SOHR sources reported that jets, said to be Israeli, also targeted a base that housed Iraqi Hezbollah troops about five kilometers away from Qallat al-Rahbah on the outskirts of al-Mayadeen city in Deir Ezzor. That attack left seven more militia fighters dead. The death toll in the airstrike is expected to rise because of the serious injuries of some casualties.

July 2020 map showing various areas of control. Courtesy of www.polgeonow.com.

Last week large demonstrations by Syrian civilians openly called for the removal of Iranian, Russian, and regime forces from Deir Ezzor.

On September 2, Israeli airstrikes hit the perimeter of T4 Tiyas airbase, which is located in the eastern countryside of Homs; they also struck Iranian and Hezbollah bases in the area. Israeli intelligence believes that the T4 airbase is where the Iranians funnel all of their weapons into the country from. 

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. It has targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces as well as government troops loyal to President Assad.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not comment on the reported airstrikes, in accordance with their policy whereby they neither confirm nor deny any operations in Syria. However, Israel has frequently stated that Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah is a threat and that it will continue its strikes. Recently, Israel said that Assad carries all responsibility for anything that any foreign entity conducts inside the Syrian territory.

Meanwhile, in Idlib province, SOHR reported that the Russians conducted two airstrikes in the area between Idlib city and Sheikh Yousef village. No casualties have been reported.

The Idlib Post tweeted a video on Friday allegedly capturing one of the Russian strikes in northern Syria.

On Wednesday, SOHR reported that five Russian jets flew over the “de-escalation zone,” and conducted several airstrikes on the western outskirts of Idlib city and the hills of Kabani in Jabal al-Akrad in northern Latakia. In addition, SOHR personnel also reported Russian reconnaissance drones flying over the “de-escalation zone,” along with renewed rocket attacks by regime forces on positions in Jabal al-Zawiyah in southern Idlib. 

Both the Syrian regime forces backed by the Russians and the Turkish military are moving troops near Idlib.  

All signs are pointing to a renewed push by Assad for Idlib.