Israeli jets strike airport near Homs — Syrian media

Official state outlet says IDF targeted airbase in country’s central region, long suspected of being used by Iran; no casualties reported

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: A Syrian surface-to-air missile explodes in the sky over southern Syria on August 31, 2020. (SANA)
Illustrative: A Syrian surface-to-air missile explodes in the sky over southern Syria on August 31, 2020. (SANA)

The Israeli military launched a number of missiles at targets near the central Syrian city of Homs late Wednesday night, Syrian state media reported.

According to the official SANA news outlet, Israel Defense Forces jets fired “a burst of missiles” at the T-4 Syrian military airbase, the largest in the country, at 10:23 p.m., from the area of al-Tanf, a US-controlled region of Syria near the Iraq border.

The Israeli military has long maintained that the T-4 base, also known as Tiyas base, is being used by Iran to move weapons throughout the region, including to the powerful Hezbollah terror group, and to conduct its own operations. In February 2018, the IDF said Iranian forces based there piloted an armed drone into Israeli airspace before it was shot down by an Israeli helicopter. At the time, the IDF bombed the command-and-control structure on the T-4 base from which the drone was operated.

On Wednesday night, SANA reported that the country’s air defense “intercepted most of them [incoming] rockets,” adding that there were no casualties. Most Syrian war analysts dismiss the military’s regular claims of interceptions as empty boasts.

The IDF did not comment on the reported strikes, in accordance with its policy.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Defense Ministry released photographs taken by the country’s newly operational spy satellite, the Ofek-16, showing historical sites in the city of Palmyra, which is located near the T-4 base.

The reported strikes on Wednesday night came two days after Israel was said to have launched missiles at targets in Syria’s south, killing at least two Syrian soldiers. A Syrian civilian woman was also reportedly killed when a Syrian military anti-aircraft missile struck her home.

The Monday night attack appeared to be the first reported Israeli airstrike on targets in Syria since a July 20 attack, in which a Hezbollah fighter was killed, prompting the Lebanese terror group to vow revenge for his death and sparking as-yet-unresolved tensions.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces, and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group, Hezbollah.

It rarely confirms details of its operations in the country, but says Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

Following the July strike in which a Hezbollah fighter was killed, the Israeli military went on high alert along the Lebanese border, bracing for an attack by the group. According to the IDF, the terror group has attempted to exact its revenge against Israeli troops a number of times in the ensuing weeks, including with a failed sniper attack last Tuesday night.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Sunday that his group would kill an Israeli soldier in retaliation for the death of its operative in Syria the month before in order to establish “deterrence” against Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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