Syrian soldier said killed in Israeli drone strike near Golan border
Reports identify 46-year-old Farid Fuad Mustafa as member of Syrian Arab Army; he reportedly assisted Hezbollah on border, had received warnings from Israel
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
A Syrian soldier was killed in an alleged Israeli drone strike Wednesday in the town of Hader, close to the border with Israel in the Golan Heights, according to Syrian and Arab media reports.
The pro-government Syrian newspaper Al-Watan, citing local sources, said 46-year-old Farid Fuad Mustafa was targeted in the drone strike. According to the pro-Hezbollah television network al-Mayadeen, he was a member of the Syrian Arab Army.
Later, the state-run SANA broadcaster said Mustafa was killed by a “guided missile” fired from an Israeli military site in the Golan Heights.
Citing the director of a nearby hospital, SANA said the man suffered from “shrapnel wounds throughout his body that led to his death.”
Images circulated online showed Mustafa operating a truck-mounted machine gun.
Channel 12 said he was part of a local infrastructure of Syrians and Hezbollah terrorists that collected intelligence on Israel and planned out terror attacks.
Mustafa acted as a lookout on the border and prepared explosive devices, among other activities. Israel had warned him in the past to stop aiding Hezbollah, the network said, citing Arabic reports.
The Israel Defense Forces refused to comment, in line with its longstanding policy of not officially acknowledging specific strikes in Syria, save for those that are in retaliation for attacks against Israel.
In the past, strikes on areas closer to the Israeli border in the Syrian Golan have targeted specific individuals suspected of plotting attacks against Israel or in the midst of carrying them out.
Israel has repeatedly accused the Syrian military of actively assisting the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in the area.
The IDF has warned the Syrian military against this, both through flyers dropped along the border and through overt public appeals, in some cases naming the Syrian and Hezbollah officials involved, including officers from the SAA’s 90th Brigade and 1st Division.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria over the years and against Syrian military installations in cases where they were being used to attack Israel or Israeli forces.
Israel fears Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.