Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday seemed to hint that Israel was responsible for an airstrike in central Syria over the weekend that reportedly targeted an Iranian-linked weapons factory.
“We are continuing to operate on all fronts, including the northern one,” Netanyahu said, at an event in Jerusalem for families of fallen IDF soldiers.
“We are not prepared to allow someone to entrench themselves in a way that endangers Israel,” he said. “Strength is the guarantee of our existence and is the crucial and basic condition for achieving peace with our neighbors.”
Syria has blamed Israel for the strike early Saturday morning that reportedly targeted a missile production facility at an army base outside the northwestern city of Masyaf. Syria’s state news agency, SANA, said its air defenses intercepted the Israeli attack, downing some of the missiles fired by Israel.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a number of Iranian “elements” and pro-Iranian militants were killed in the attack, and 17 people were injured.
The IDF declined to comment on the early morning raid. Israel does not usually comment on reports concerning its airstrikes in neighboring Syria, though it has recently acknowledged striking Iranian targets there.
Israel maintains that Iran is seeking to establish a military presence in Syria and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group, its proxy in Lebanon and Syria.
In recent years, the IDF has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Sunday, a satellite imaging firm released pictures of the aftermath of the Saturday morning raid that showed a large hanger and three adjacent structures flattened in the bombardment. ImageSat International said the missile facility targeted in the strike was built between 2014 to 2016, adjacent to an existing Syrian military base outside Masyaf.
Israel is said to have previously targeted the Masyaf region, including last July, when IDF warplanes reportedly bombarded a Syrian scientific research center that was linked to chemical weapons manufacturing.
Last month, Israel allegedly attacked Iranian targets near the northern city of Aleppo. SANA said that airstrike targeted several bases near an industrial zone by the airport and that air defenses had managed to intercept several incoming missiles.
Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz appeared to confirm last month’s attack, saying in an interview with Israel Radio that “as far as Iran knows, it’s Israel” that had carried out the strike, adding that it was a “challenging” operation.
The recent strikes come at a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Syria, following last month’s decision by the US administration to recognize Israel’s control over the Golan Heights. The decision sparked condemnation and protests in Syria.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.
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