Israeli airstrikes in Syria said to hit Iranian targets near Russian naval base

Syrian officer says Iranian base and nearby air defense system hit in Tartus; Hezbollah posts near Damascus also reportedly struck

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: A satellite photo of the Syrian port city of Tartus (Google maps)
Illustrative: A satellite photo of the Syrian port city of Tartus (Google maps)

Israeli airstrikes near Russia’s main navy base in the coastal Syrian city of Tartus on Sunday night targeted Iranian sites, an unidentified Syrian officer told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

The state-run SANA broadcaster had earlier said Israeli jets launched missiles from over neighboring Lebanon, targeting sites in Tartus and on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, killing three soldiers and wounding three others.

The Syrian army officer told Reuters on condition of anonymity that an Iranian base near the village of Abu Afsa, south of Tartus, was targeted alongside a nearby air defense system and radar station.

Footage circulating on social media apparently showed a burning site in the Tartus area. SANA confirmed a fire had erupted at a site that was targeted.

The port city is home to Russia’s only Mediterranean base, where its warships are docked. The coastal city of Latakia, some 70 kilometers north of Tartus, houses a Russian airbase.

Two Syrian military defectors familiar with the region told the agency that the strikes near Damascus hit outposts manned by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

File: A Russian navy missile ship ‘Veliky Ustyug’ sails off from the Russian naval facility in Tartus, Syria, on patrol in eastern Mediterranean, September 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Israel does not acknowledge specific strikes in the enemy state, and had no comment on Sunday’s reports.

It has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in the last decade, mostly to stymie attempts by Iranian forces to transfer weapons to Iran-backed Hezbollah, or establish a foothold on Israel’s northern frontier.

A fire is seen burning near the coastal city of Tartus following a reported Israeli airstrike, August 14, 2022. (Social media)

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent months.

Israel has found itself at odds with Russia, as the Jewish state increasingly supports Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, while still seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

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