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Syria says Israel carries out strikes near Damascus, Golan Heights border

Alleged attack hits sites connected to Iran and its proxies; Syrian state media reports no casualties, but pro-opposition group says 8 pro-Iranian fighters killed

A Syrian anti-aircraft missile explodes in mid-air, lighting up the night sky near Damascus on November 24, 2020. (SANA)
A Syrian anti-aircraft missile explodes in mid-air, lighting up the night sky near Damascus on November 24, 2020. (SANA)

The Israeli military bombed a number of targets in southern Syria late Tuesday night, striking areas associated with Iran and its proxies, Syrian state media reported.

The official SANA news agency reported that Israel launched a series of airstrikes at 11:50 p.m. on sites in the countryside south of Damascus and on a village just south of Quneitra near Israel’s border with Syria on the Golan Heights. Both of those areas have long been alleged to be Iranian strongholds in Syria and have been bombed by Israel in the past.

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.

SANA reported that the Israeli strikes caused only material damage. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding, said that eight pro-Iranian fighters were killed in the overnight attacks. That could not be immediately verified. The group has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of inflating casualty numbers, as well as inventing them wholesale.

Syrian news outlets reported that one of the strikes hit targets in the village of Jabal al-Mane, south of Damascus, an area that has in the past been reportedly used by Iran as a base of operations for its proxies in Syria. On July 20, Israel allegedly bombed a weapons depot in that area that was being used by Iranian proxies.

The Tuesday night strikes also reportedly targeted a site near the village of Ruwayhinah, just east of the border with Israel near Quneitra. Israel has accused the Hezbollah terror group of establishing a base of operations in that area.

 

The reported strike comes a week after a strike claimed by Israel in response to what Jerusalem said was a failed Iranian explosives attack on the Golan Heights.

The military said it bombed “warehouses, command posts and military complexes, as well as batteries of surface-to-air missiles” in early morning retaliatory strikes following the discovery of mines planted near the Israel-Syria frontier. The military did not specify the location of the three sites, but they appeared to be military positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

On Thursday morning, the IDF also released aerial before-and-after photographs of two sites bombed in the strikes: a military complex used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force; and a command center of the Syrian military’s 7th Division, which Israel says cooperates widely with Iranian forces in Syria.

A before-and-after photograph showing the damage caused by the Israel Defense Forces to what it says is an Iranian military complex outside Damascus on November 17, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Syrian state media reported that three Syrian soldiers were killed in the strikes. All three appeared to serve in air defense batteries that were destroyed by the IDF after they fired on Israeli jets.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 people in total were killed in the Israeli strikes, some of them Iranian. That could not be immediately confirmed and was not reported by other groups in Syria.

A before-and-after photograph showing the damage caused by the Israel Defense Forces to a command center of the Syrian military’s 7th Division in southern Syria on November 17, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The day before, IDF combat engineers disarmed three anti-personnel mines within Israeli territory, near the Syrian border, which the military believes were planted by Syrian nationals on behalf of Iran several weeks before.

Israel views a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria as an unacceptable threat, which it will take military action to prevent.

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.

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