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Israeli aircraft said to bomb weapons facility in Syria, killing 9

War monitor says four of those killed were Syrian, five of unknown nationality; area that was targeted has reportedly been hit by IDF in the past

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli airstrikes targeted a weapons facility in the area of Masyaf in northern Syria on Thursday night, killing nine people and causing massive damage, according to reports from Syria.

According to the Syrian state media outlet SANA, the country’s air defenses were activated by the attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported that at least nine people were killed in the strike, with the death toll expected to rise. According to the Observatory, four of those killed were Syrian nationals and the other five were of unknown nationality.

Video footage from Syria, shared on social media, showed Syrian anti-aircraft missiles being fired into the sky, as well as large fires on the ground apparently caused by the airstrikes.

Israel did not immediately comment on the reports.

Syrian war analysts identified the target of the strike — based on photographs and videos of the scene — as Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center, also known as CERS, a defense laboratory associated with the manufacture of chemical arms and advanced missiles, which was also reportedly bombed by Israel in July 2018.

Israel has repeatedly warned that Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, are developing precision-guided missiles, which Israel sees as one of the major strategic threats facing it.

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 Masyaf facility is located just a few kilometers from Syria’s advanced S-300 anti-aircraft battery and a yet more advanced Russian-operated S-400 battery, neither of which appeared to have been used to repel the attack.

Lebanese media reported that in the moments before the attack Israeli aircraft were spotted flying over Lebanon. SANA said the missiles that struck the Masyaf facility came from Lebanese airspace.

The reported Israeli attack on Thursday night came days after an airstrike in eastern Syria that was attributed to Israel and was said to have killed five non-Syrian fighters backed by Iran.

The strike targeted three military vehicles belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary fighters near the Iraqi border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said that “Israel was likely responsible.”

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

Israel, as a rule, does not comment on specific airstrikes, but does generally acknowledge carrying out attacks inside Syria against Iranian forces and Iranian proxy militias.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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