Israeli airstrikes hit targets near Homs, Syrian state media says

Latest alleged attack sparks fires, leaves 3 injured; comes hours after Iran’s foreign minister visits Lebanon’s border with Israel, and days after reported artillery strikes

A fire is seen burning in footage purportedly from the Syrian city of Homs, following an alleged Israeli airstrike, April 29, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)
A fire is seen burning in footage purportedly from the Syrian city of Homs, following an alleged Israeli airstrike, April 29, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Israel launched airstrikes against targets near the western Syrian city of Homs during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning, Syrian state media reported.

Syria’s state news agency, SANA, citing military officials, said that three civilians were wounded in the strike and that a civilian fuel station caught fire and a number of fuel tankers and trucks were burned.

It reported that Syrian air defenses responded to Israeli airstrikes. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

The pro-government Sham FM radio said fires broke out south of Homs as a result of the strikes and “successive explosions sounded from the area.”

While Israel’s military does not as a rule comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

There have been a number of alleged Israeli strikes in Syria in recent weeks.

On Monday, the IDF shelled a site in southern Syria, just across the border from the Golan Heights, according to Syrian media reports.

Shortly after the strike, the IDF reportedly dropped threatening pamphlets in the area, warning Syrian soldiers to stop cooperating with Hezbollah.

A similar incident reportedly occurred days before.

The IDF has repeatedly accused the Syrian military of actively assisting Hezbollah and warned it against this, both through flyers dropped along the border and through overt, public appeals.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks with the commander of the IDF’s Menashe Brigade, Col. Arik Moyal, April 9, 2023. (Ariel Hermoni/ Defense Ministry)

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Iran and Hezbollah that Israel would not tolerate any efforts to harm the country or its citizens after a man was seriously wounded in a Megiddo bomb attack blamed on Hezbollah.

Israel is alleged to have carried out a number of strikes in Syria this month, including one that killed two members of Iran’s IRGC.

After that strike, a suspected Iranian drone launched from Syria was brought down over Israeli airspace.

Several days later, six rockets were launched from southern Syria at the Golan Heights in two separate barrages hours apart, with three landing in Israeli territory, the military said. The IDF responded with artillery strikes in response to the rocket attack.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, center, waves as he stands with Hezbollah members and Lebanese lawmakers with the Israeli side of the border in the background, during his visit to the village of Maroun el-Rass on the Lebanon-Israel border, south Lebanon, April 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Mohammed Zaatari)

On Friday, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Lebanon’s border with Israel, taking a tour of the area with Hezbollah and Lebanese parliamentarians, after a meeting with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

During the visit, Amir-Abdollahian predicted that “positive developments in the region will lead to the collapse of the Zionist entity.”

AP contributed to this report.

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