Israeli strike in Syria said to hit onion factory used by Iran to store weapons

Syrian watchdog group says second strike hit a cattle feed plant, also used to camouflage Iranian military facility

Illustrative: Explosions are seen in the Syrian town of Salamiyah on June 24 after an airstrike (video screenshot)
Illustrative: Explosions are seen in the Syrian town of Salamiyah on June 24 after an airstrike (video screenshot)

Airstrikes in Syria Tuesday that were attributed to Israel struck an onion-processing plant and a cattle feed factory converted by Iranian forces into ammunition warehouses, a Syrian watchdog group said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one strike targeted the onion factory in Salamiyah, near Hama in western Syria.

It said though the plant is operational, part of it had been taken over by Iranian forces and converted into a weapons warehouse. The report further said the strike caused numerous secondary explosions that lasted for several hours, and that fragments from these explosions went on to wound local residents.

The Observatory said a second strike targeted the feed plant in Aqrab, also in the Hama region, which was being used by Iranian forces to conceal weapon storage facilities.

The strikes allegedly carried out by Israel targeted several regions in Syria and killed at least seven people, including two Syrian soldiers and five pro-Iranian militia members, state news agency SANA and the Britain-based Observatory said.

Two soldiers were killed and four others wounded in the strikes in the southern province of Sweida, a Syrian military source cited by state media said.

“Several hostile missiles were fired at our military positions in Kababej, west of Deir Ezzor and in the Al-Sukhna region,” a military source quoted by the official SANA news agency said, using Damascus’ common term for Israeli attacks.

“At the same time, one of our military positions was targeted near the town of Salkhad in the southern city of Sweida, resulting in the death of two martyrs and the wounding of four other soldiers,” the source added.

SANA later reported a third set of strikes early near Hama, claiming that air defense had intercepted several missiles. Video reportedly from the scene showed explosions on the ground.

The Observatory said Israeli strikes had targeted “Iranian militia positions in Tel al-Sahen,” killing the Syrian soldiers, while five Iranian-backed fighters were killed and several others critically wounded in a separate strike on a “military center” near Deir Ezzor, in eastern Syria.

The strikes led to “widespread damage” in communications towers and ignited fires in the area. Iranian-backed militias were also present in the area, the observatory said.

Al-Arabiya reported that the strikes were carried out by Israeli planes and that four aircraft had participated in the attack.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, which generally refuses to make statements about individual strikes. Israeli officials have confirmed the broad outlines of a several-year air campaign to keep Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria.

Iranian bases in Deir Ezzor have been targeted in the past in strikes attributed to Israel, which has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

It was the fourth incident of alleged Israeli strikes in Syria in the past month.

Israel has repeatedly warned that Iran and its proxies, notably Hezbollah, are developing precision-guided missiles, which Israel sees as one of the major strategic threats facing it.

Aaron Boxerman, Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.

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