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Syria says two soldiers killed after Israeli airstrike hits airbase near Homs

Report says Shayrat Airbase recently used by Iranian forces, Russian troops stationed nearby; strike comes days after deadly attack on convoy at Syria-Iraq border

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

This image shared by Syrian media outlets purports to show the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the Shayrat Airbase, south of the city of Homs, November 13, 2022. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
This image shared by Syrian media outlets purports to show the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike on the Shayrat Airbase, south of the city of Homs, November 13, 2022. (Social media; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israel carried out airstrikes against an airbase in northeastern Syria on Sunday evening, killing two soldiers and wounding three others, Syrian media reported.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces, in line with its policy of not generally commenting on air raids in the country.

The strike came just days after Israeli missiles allegedly targeted a convoy near the Syria-Iraq border, reportedly leaving at least 10 people dead, including a number of Iranian fighters. That strike was said to target trucks carrying fuel and possibly weapons from Iran to Lebanon.

According to Syria’s Sham FM radio station, in Sunday’s strike Israeli jets targeted the Shayrat Airbase, south of the city of Homs.

Military sources speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity said the strikes had targeted a runway. The sources cited by the news agency said the airbase had recently been used by Iranian forces.

Syria’s state-run broadcaster SANA, citing a military source, said two soldiers were killed and three were wounded, and unspecified damage was caused to the site that was struck.

Images shared on social media appeared to show a large fireball and prolonged secondary explosions following the attack.

SANA claimed Syrian air defenses managed to intercept several of the Israeli missiles in Sunday’s strike. 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.

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. 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.

Russia has forces stationed near the Shayrat Airbase, and it also uses the base, sources told Reuters, adding that Russia had expanded the runway and other facilities in recent years.

In June, Israeli airstrikes put Damascus’s airport out of service for nearly two weeks. A pair of sorties targeting the Aleppo airport in early September also forced that facility to shut down.

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