Israeli strikes in Syria said to target training base for Hezbollah’s ‘Golan File’

TV report comes after US intelligence officials say Iran-backed operatives were conducting drills at camp for attack on American troops in Syria

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

Fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village in the Jezzine District, southern Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah carry out a training exercise in Aaramta village in the Jezzine District, southern Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Airstrikes in the Damascus area earlier this week that were attributed to Israel targeted a Hezbollah terror group training base, according to an Israeli television report.

Citing a Middle Eastern intelligence source, the Kan public broadcaster said Wednesday that the camp in the city of Dumayr, northeast of Damascus, was hit during a wave of strikes on targets in Syria’s capital on Sunday night.

The unit training at the Dumayr base — known within the Iran-backed terror organization as the Golan File — operates in southern Syria near Israel’s border. Kan said Golan File members were training for operations against Israel.

The Golan File mostly involves collecting intelligence and recruiting operatives, but also has weaponry in its possession — namely explosives, light arms, machine guns, and antitank missiles, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Last week, it was reported that Golan File Hezbollah operatives were conducting military exercises at the Dumayr base in preparation for an attack on American troops in Syria. The report was first published by the Al-Hadath network and later confirmed by two US intelligence officials to the Long War Journal, a daily publication of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based think tank.

According to the reports, the training involved tanks and small arms.

The Golan File also made headlines last month after a Hezbollah operative in Syria tasked with enlisting locals to gather intelligence on Israel was reported by Kan to have resumed activities, after lying low in response to Israel’s recent arrest of one of his spies.

Israeli soldiers patrol the border fence with Syria, in southern Golan Heights, on January 29, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Damage was caused to two warehouses in Damascus in the strike late Sunday, according to the Russian military. Russia is a close ally of Syria, has forces operating in the country, and provides Syria with air defenses that try and shoot down Israeli jets and missiles.

“At 11:45 p.m. on 28 May 2023, two F-15 tactical fighter jets of the Israel Defense Forces from the airspace of the occupied Golan Heights fired six GBU-39 guided aerial bombs on targets near the city of Damascus,” the so-called Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria said Monday.

“Two air bombs were intercepted by the air defense forces of the Syrian Armed Forces using Russian-made Buk-M2E systems. The Israeli airstrike damaged two warehouses. There were no casualties or injuries,” it added.

Iran-backed Hezbollah, considered the most significant threat along Israel’s borders, is Lebanese but has become increasingly active in Syria since coming to the aid of Syrian President Bashar Assad during the civil war in the country.

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.

Many of the strikes have targeted the Golan File and other Iranian efforts to entrench themselves on Israel’s border with Syria, including one such strike in April.

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

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