Iran does not admit any of its forces hit in Thursday’s attacks
The Israel Defense Forces said Thursday that its overnight strikes set back Iranian military capabilities in Syria by “many months”.
The Israeli military struck multiple positions of the Assad regime, where Iranian personnel are stationed, after rocket fire into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights early Thursday. It claimed the rockets — about 20, all of which were either intercepted or fell without causing casualties outside Israeli territory — were fired by the Quds Forces, Iran’s elite military force for operations outside the Islamic Republic.
The IDF said it responded by attacking more than 50 targets, including headquarters and intelligence centers of the Quds Force; weapons depots; storage facilities; observation posts; and logistics centers, as well as regime anti-aircraft missile systems and the rocket launcher that started the exchange. Among locations given were the al-Kiswah base, an Iranian logistics compound “northwest of Damascus”, storage warehouses at Damascus International Airport, and observation posts and munitions in the zone near the Golan Heights.
The military released photos of some of the sites and video of a strike on a Pantsir S-1 rocket launcher — cost $15 million — which was destroyed:
The IDF struck an SA22 aerial interception system as part of a wide-scale attack against Iranian military sites in Syria pic.twitter.com/dFGXIwMT45
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 10, 2018
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed that the IDF had destroyed “nearly all” of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the successful attacks were a “consequence” of Iran “crossing a red line”.
Iran is not acknowledging that its units fired rockets into the Golan Heights or that they were targeted by the Israelis. Instead, President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi declared that “the Zionist regime’s repeated attacks on Syrian soil” were to “avenge the many failures of their self-created terrorists and tip the scales in their favor”.
The Assad regime’s military continued to declare that it “managed with high efficiency to intercept and destroy a large part of the Israeli missiles”, without providing any evidence.
The Army General Command said three people were killed and two injured by the “remaining parts” of the missiles, with destruction of a radar station and an ammunition depot.
But a pro-Assad blogger has revealed the death of at least one member of the regime armed forces:
Captain ‘Ali Kasser Mahmoud of Masyaf spent much of the war besieged by Daesh at the Kuweires Airbase. He and few hundred Syrians fought off every Daesh offensive until the siege was lifted.
He was killed yesterday by an Israeli missile. pic.twitter.com/0ZZLUiaqss
— Leith Aboufadel (@leithfadel) May 10, 2018
Widespread Call to Avoid Escalation
Russia — which is the key ally alongside Iran of the Assad regime but which also has a de facto cooperation arrangement with Israel — did not challenge the attacks or criticize them. Later, Foreign Secretary Sergey Lavrov said the raids were a “very alarming development” and called for caution from both sides, with all issues “solved through dialogue”.
France, Germany, and Britain issued similar statements. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for an “immediate halt to all hostile acts” and for the Security Council to remain actively aware of the situation and “shoulder its responsibilities” under the UN Charter.
While calling for restraint, France declared its “unwavering support for Israel’s security”, and Germany and Britain denounced the rockets into the Golan that they said came from the Iranian military.
The White House condemned Iran’s “provocative attack” with “offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel”. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Iranian deployment is Syria “is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East”.
Residents: Regime Seizes Men for Conscription in Douma, Violating Capitulation Agreement
Residents say regime forces in Douma, in the East Ghouta area near Damascus, are seizing young men for military service.
The forced conscriptions would be a violation of last month’s capitulation agreement, brokered by Russian officials with rebels. The deal stipulated a transitional period of six months in which residents choosing to remain in Douma would not be prosecuted or forced into military service.
But multiple sources told Syria Direct that forces at regime checkpoints across the city began detaining young men on Tuesday. “Dozens” were taken on three buses to an unknown destination, pro-opposition media reported.
Two residents estimated that 150 men were seized.
A regime “reconciliation committee” informed residents on Wednesday that the young men arrested the previous day were only those wanted for mandatory military service — required of all Syrian males between the ages of 18 and 42—and that they would be given the choice of serving immediately or after a six-month delay, a resident said.
A source currently in Douma told me that those who refused to enlist after their arrest were released. But of course, it's a highly coercive situation & employment opportunities are incredibly slim https://t.co/X5UYg0HwlT
— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) May 11, 2018
Civilians Remaining in North Homs After Problems with Evacuation
Hundreds of families in a northern Homs pokcet, which surrendered to pro-Assad forces last week, are withdrawing their decision to leave after difficulties placing people in opposition-held northern Syria.
In the town of Talbiseh alone, 200 families have requested that their names be removed from evacuation lists since the first convoy left the pocket on Monday, said Mohammed al-Khateeb, the head of Talbiseh’s local council.
Thousands of residents faced difficulties reaching northern Aleppo Province, including the city of al-Bab, because camps are full with others displaced by pro-Assad assaults. The convoys are being redirected to Idlib Province.
Northern Aleppo, held by Turkish and rebel forces, is seen as a relatively safe option for displacement, but Russian and regime warplanes are periodically bombing across Idlib.
Idlib and northern Aleppo have been flooded with new waves of displaced after pro-Assad attacks — including chemical as well as conventional weapons — and sieges forced the capitulations of East Ghouta near Damascus and the northern Homs area including the towns of Rastan, Talbiseh, and Houla. At least 35,000 people have been displaced to areas of Aleppo Province in recent months, with relief organizations struggling to accommodate basic needs.