Syria accuses Israel of conducting rare daylight strike near Masyaf

Citing military source, state media claims some of Israeli missiles intercepted by air defenses; footage shows large clouds of smoke in area

A cloud of smoke rises after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on April 9, 2022. (Screenshot/Twitter)
A cloud of smoke rises after an alleged airstrike near the Syrian city of Masyaf, on April 9, 2022. (Screenshot/Twitter)

Israel carried out airstrikes on government-held positions in Syria on Saturday afternoon, the state news agency SANA said, without reporting any casualties.

“The Israeli enemy launched an aerial assault from the direction of northern Lebanon targeting a number of positions in the central region,” SANA reported, citing a military source.

The news agency said air defenses were activated and intercepted some of the Israeli missiles over the Hama province. It said damage from the strikes was still being assessed.

Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups.

Local reports said explosions were seen near the town of Masyaf and nearby areas in the west of government-controlled Hama province. Photos posted to social media showed large plumes of smoke in the area.

While alleged Israeli attacks in Syria typically take place under the cover of darkness, Saturday’s strike was conducted at around 6:45 p.m. while the sun was still out, according to SANA.

The area around Masyaf, which is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias, has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks widely attributed to Israel.

The area is also home to a facility belonging to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which itself has been struck several times in the past.

Western officials have long associated CERS with the manufacture of chemical arms. According to the United States, sarin gas was developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities.

In early March, Israeli strikes near Damascus killed two officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the Islamic republic’s ideological army. The Guards vowed to avenge the killings and subsequently launched strikes on what they claimed was an Israeli “strategic center” in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside the country, targeting Iranian forces and Iran-allied terror groups, particularly along the Golan border, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has fighters deployed in southern Syria.

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