Syrian media says 1 soldier killed, 3 injured in Israeli strikes near Damascus

Regime air defenses respond to ‘Israeli aggression’ near Syria’s capital, government news outlet says

Illustrative: A Syrian surface-to-air missile explodes in the sky over southern Syria on August 31, 2020. (SANA)
Illustrative: A Syrian surface-to-air missile explodes in the sky over southern Syria on August 31, 2020. (SANA)

The Israeli Air Force conducted multiple airstrikes in Syria in the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, including an attack on a Syrian military air defense battery in which one soldier was killed, Syrian media reported.

According to multiple Syria news outlets, the Israeli military struck a target in the area of a-Zabadani in western Syria, close to the border with Lebanon. The site was said to be an arms depot, likely indicating that the target were weapons shipments to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

In addition, the Israeli Air Force targeted an aerial defense battery west of Damascus, killing at least one of the soldiers inside and injuring three others, Syrian state media reported.

“Today at 1:30 the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression with missile bursts from northern Galilee, targeting a unit of our air defense forces in the Nabi Habeel area,” a military source told the state-run SANA news agency. Nabi Habeel is located near the Lebanese border to the west of Damascus.

The Israeli military has said that it will attack Syrian air defenses that fire at its jets.

The Syrian military source told SANA that the country’s air defenses “repelled” the incoming Israeli attack. Defense analysts routinely dismiss claims by the Syrian regime about its air defense prowess as empty boasts. In this case, the massive fireball in a-Zabadani from the alleged Israeli strike similarly refuted the Syrian military’s assertions.

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 airspace over Israel’s Golan Heights was closed to civil aviation on Wednesday morning.

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.

The last reported strikes in Syria attributed to Israel took place earlier this month near the town of Masyaf in the central Hama province. The airstrikes destroyed four weapons manufacturing facilities, according to satellite images released by a private Israeli intelligence firm.

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.

AFP contributed to this report.

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