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Report: Israel warns Syria it will ramp up strikes over Iran weapons transfers

Al-Arabiya says Jerusalem sent message to Damascus after three strikes in recent days blamed on Israel; it also reports Iran is sending arms in shipments disguised as aid

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

A fire is seen after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on August 25, 2022. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law, file)
A fire is seen after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on August 25, 2022. (Social media: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law, file)

Israel has threatened Syria it will ramp up airstrikes in the country over its cooperation with Iran in smuggling arms to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to a Thursday report, which came following three attacks in Syria attributed to Israel within days.

The Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya, citing unidentified sources, said Iran has been sending weapons disguised as aid for Syria and Lebanon by air, land and sea.

The network said a rare daytime airstrike on the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday targeted military sites belonging to the elite Fourth Armoured Division, which is commanded by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother, Maher.

The report said Maher Assad’s unit “supports Iran in the transfer of strategic weapons and dangerous materials” for Syria and Lebanon.

Additionally, the strikes targeted the headquarters of the “Lebanese legion” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, involved in transferring arms to Lebanon.

The report did not say how or when the Israeli message had been delivered.

Maher Assad (Wikipedia Commons / m.nadaff)

Israeli missiles damaged sites near the Syrian capital early Thursday in the third alleged strike in under a week, the official SANA news agency said.

There was no immediate comment from Israel on the reports, which has admitted it has conducted hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

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.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as Jerusalem’s ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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