Report: Explosions heard at Iranian facility near Damascus
Sky News Arabia says blasts target electronic warfare facility used by Tehran south of Syrian capital; no confirmation
Explosions rocked an area thought to house an Iranian facility near Damascus early Monday morning, according to a report in Sky News Arabia.
There was no immediate confirmation of the explosion and it was not clear what may have caused the blasts, which came days after another mysterious explosion at a Syrian base.
Sky News said locals reported hearing explosions in the area of Najjah, a neighborhood south of Damascus which houses a military academy.
According to the report, the blasts are thought to have occurred at an Iranian electronic warfare facility there.
There was no immediate word from Syria, which was said to be on the verge of pushing the last pockets of Islamic State resistance out of southern Damascus on Monday.
Israel has increasingly taken aim at Iranian facilities in southern Syria over recent months as it attempts to keep Tehran from gaining a military foothold on its doorstep.
The sorties, which Israel rarely admits to openly, have led to increased tensions in the border region and earlier this month sparked a barrage of 20 missiles at northern Israel, drawing a massive Israeli reprisal attack.
The explosions were reported after mysterious blasts tore through weapons and fuel depots on Friday at a military airport in Syria’s Hama province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killing at least 28 people.
Syrian state media reported the blasts at the time but did not provide any details, while the Observatory had said they were likely due to a technical malfunction.
However, the Sky News Arabia outlet reported that those explosions were caused by an attack on an advanced Iranian air defense system, despite it coming in the middle of the day, when Israel rarely carries out airstrikes.
After maintaining an official policy of refusing to comment on such strikes, the Israeli military earlier this month revealed that it had been conducting air raids against Iranian targets in Syria as part of a mission dubbed “Operation Chess.”
The purpose of “Operation Chess” was to prevent Iran from carrying out reprisals for an Israeli airstrike against the Iranian-controlled T-4 air base in central Syria on April 9, which killed at least seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a senior officer responsible for its drone program.
Iran had also used the T-4 base to launch an attack drone carrying explosives into Israel in February, according to the Israel Defense Forces; the drone was shot down.
The IRGC’s al-Quds Force in southern Syria launched 20 rockets at northern Israel 10 days ago. Four of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defenses, the army said, and the rest fell short of the border.
In response, the Israeli Air Force conducted strikes against over 50 Iranian military targets in Syria and destroyed several Syrian air defense systems that had fired on Israeli jets, the army said.
Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that the Jewish state will not accept Iranian entrenchment in Syria and is prepared to take military action in order to prevent it.
Last week, the Israeli army reportedly told senior ministers that it believes the current round of hostilities were over, but tensions in the north will persist, and that border incidents are still possible.