Israeli tanks destroy outpost used by Iranian proxies on Syrian border — report

Syrian media says strike hit observation post near al-Qahtaniah, used by Hezbollah and other Tehran-linked groups; follows IDF attack on Syrian military base nearby

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

An IDF tank deployed to the Golan Heights, near the Syria border, on July 1, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
An IDF tank deployed to the Golan Heights, near the Syria border, on July 1, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli tanks shelled an observation post used by an Iran-aligned militia in the Syrian Golan early Thursday morning, Syrian media reported.

According to Syria’s Enab Baladi outlet, the outpost near the village of al-Qahtaniah in the Quneitra region was destroyed in the attack.

The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment on the matter, in line with its policy of not officially acknowledging specific strikes in Syria, save for those that are in retaliation for attacks against Israel.

According to Enab Baladi, the observation post, which was located some 150 meters from the border, was officially under the control of the 90th Brigade of the Syrian military’s 1st Corps, but was often used by Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese terrorist militia Hezbollah. Israel has long maintained that this Syrian unit works closely with these Iranian-backed groups.

A Syrian activist from the area told the outlet that the outpost was regularly visited by a leading Hezbollah commander who goes by Jawad Hashem, and whose father — known as Hajj Hashem — is officially tasked with leading Hezbollah’s efforts along the Syrian-Israeli border, known as the Golan File.

Late last month, IDF drones reportedly dropped flyers near the border with a photograph of Jawad Hashem and several top Syrian officers, warning residents of the area that “Hezbollah is using you.”

A flyer in southern Syria that was apparently dropped by the IDF, identifying top Hezbollah and Syrian military officials and warning residents of the area that they are being used by the Lebanese terror group, on May 27, 2021. (Social media)

In the past, such flyers have been dropped as warnings ahead of attacks on Hezbollah posts along the border.

On June 1, the IDF said it destroyed another Syrian regime observation post that was established on the Israeli side of the buffer zone in the Golan Heights.

The military “destroyed a forward observation post of the Syrian army that was set up in an Israeli area west of the Alfa line in the Golan Heights,” spokesman Avichay Adraee wrote on Twitter at the time, referring to the Israeli side of a UN-patrolled buffer zone between both countries.

He said troops attacked and blew up the post, adding that Israel would not “tolerate any attempt to violate the sovereignty” of the Jewish state. The site is on the Syrian side of the border fence, but still technically in Israeli territory.

Channel 13 showed footage of the troops going in and planting the explosives. Officers told the channel the posts were also used by Hezbollah fighters and pro-Iranian militias. “We vaporized it,” one officer told the TV.

The report said the IDF had deliberately used ground forces instead of targeting the site from the air in order to send a message to Syria and Hezbollah that Israel would not tolerate any violations of its sovereignty. No casualties were reported.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years, mostly targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as Syrian government troops. The military has said it hit some 50 targets in 2020 alone.

Israel says it is trying to prevent Iran, which has been one of the Syrian government’s key allies in the decade-old civil war, from gaining a permanent military foothold on its doorstep.

The Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, was captured by Israel from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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