Four weapons manufacturing facilities were destroyed in northwestern Syria early Friday morning in a series of airstrikes attributed to Israel, according to satellite images released by a private Israeli intelligence firm.
Syria’s official news agency SANA said the attack occurred near the town of Masyaf and that the missiles were fired from Lebanese territory.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-Syrian opposition organization, claimed the strikes hit positions of Iran-backed militias and killed at least six foreign paramilitaries. The claim could not be verified. The group has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of inflating casualty numbers, as well as inventing them wholesale.
The Observatory said the strikes targeted the Iran-backed groups’ arms depots and facilities for manufacturing short-range missiles.
According to the satellite imagery analysis company ImageSat International, the airstrikes Friday destroyed four weapons production buildings “that were probably used for mixing and casting components of missile engines and warheads.”
The targets appeared to be part of a factory complex whose primary mission is the production of “missile engines, rockets and warheads,” the satellite company said, citing open-source reports. One of the destroyed buildings had been rebuilt following a previous attack, the company indicated.
Before-and-after images from the site show a destroyed series of structures in the airstrikes.
Masyaf is a significant military area for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime that includes a military academy and a scientific research center. The general area around Masyaf, which is also believed to have a major Iranian presence, has reportedly been targeted by Israel many times in the past.
The Associated Press said Israeli jets flew very low over parts of Lebanon before the strikes, including over Beirut, frightening some of the city’s residents.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense issued a statement Friday saying Israel “launched an aggression by directing a barrage of rockets” from the north of the Lebanese city of Tripoli toward the Masyaf area.
It said Syrian air defenses “confronted the enemy missiles and intercepted most of them.” Syrian war analysts generally dismiss the military’s regular claims of interceptions as false, empty boasts.
Syrian state TV aired footage purporting to show air defenses responding to the Israeli attack.
There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, which generally maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria, refusing to publicly acknowledge its actions.
The last reported Israeli strikes in Syria took place a month ago in the southern part of the country, near Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights, and reportedly targeted sites associated with Iran and its proxies.
The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.