Fresh satellite photos released Sunday show the damage caused to Syria’s airport in Damascus by the series of Israeli airstrikes last week, when the IAF hit over 50 Iranian targets in the war-torn country.
The Israeli strikes, the largest air force operation in Syria in over 40 years, came in response to an Iranian rocket barrage at the Golan Heights last week and Israel warnings that it would not tolerate Tehran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily on Israel’s northern border.
Before and after photos of the May 10 attack show the destruction of storage facilities near the airport, as well as the disappearance of all activity around one building, which reportedly housed the headquarters for Iran’s military operations in Syria.
The black and white photos were published by ImageSat International, an Israeli private satellite imaging company. They showed various buildings photographed on September 24, 2017 and the same structures badly damaged in pictures taken on May 11.
Among the buildings featured in the images are a warehouse located just 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the main terminal and a building the company identified as the so-called “Glass House” — a five-level command complex from which Iran reportedly coordinated its military campaign in Syria.
Iran, along with Russia, is helping the Syrian regime suppress a bloody insurgency, now in its eighth year.
In the September photo the Glass House is surrounded by vehicles indicating it was busy with activity, whereas the image from May 11 shows the area around the damaged building empty. According to ImageSat, that indicates the building was “abandoned.”
Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter jets bombed over 50 Iranian targets throughout Syria as the Israel air force carried out an extensive campaign, dubbed “Operation House of Cards,” to try to destroy Iran’s military presence in the country, the army said last Thursday.
Among the targets were a weapons depot in the international airport in Damascus, as well as positions, observation posts, and arms placed in the buffer zone on the Israel-Syria border.
The sorties came after Iran fired 20 missiles toward Israel just after midnight on Thursday morning. Four of the missiles were knocked down by the Iron Dome air defense system and the rest failed to reach Israeli territory, according to the IDF.
The overnight exchange was the largest-ever direct clash between the Iranian forces and the IDF, and appeared to be the largest exchange involving Israel in Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
At least 23 fighters were killed, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces.
The monitor said the regime troops killed in the strikes included an officer, adding that the other casualties included Syrians and foreigners, without specifying their nationality.
The military said it also targeted a number of Syrian air defense systems — SA-5, SA-2, SA-22, and SA-17 batteries — that had fired at Israeli planes, despite the military’s Arabic-language spokesperson explicitly warning earlier that “any Syrian involvement will be met with the utmost severity.”
Syria’s military denied the Observatory’s report, saying the Israeli airstrikes killed three people and wounded two others, destroyed a radar station and an ammunition warehouse, and damaged a number of air defense units.
In the days and weeks before the Iranian barrage, defense officials had warned that Israel would respond aggressively to any attack from Syrian territory.
Tehran has repeatedly vowed revenge after the T-4 army base in Syria was struck in an air raid — widely attributed to Israel — on April 9, killing at least seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a senior officer responsible for the group’s drone program.
Israel has committed to preventing Iran from establishing forward bases in Syria, fearing they could be used to launch strikes against the Jewish state, and also to prevent advanced weapons from reaching Iran’s Lebanese proxy, the Hezbollah terror group. A number of deadly air strikes against Syrian targets which reportedly destroyed Iranian military assets, have been attributed to Israel.