Iranian targets struck by Israel near Damascus, Syria, January 20, 2019 (Israel Defense Forces)
Israel has launched another set of missile strikes in Syria against the Assad regime’s military and Iran’s Quds Force.
The Israel Defense Forces said on Wednesday that it launched the strikes after explosive devices were planted in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The IDF said eight targets — half near Damascus and half near the Golan — were hit, including a regime base, storage facilities, military compounds, and anti-aircraft missile batteries.
The IDF added that it aimed at a secret barracks of Iranian officers and an Iranian base near Damascus International Airport. Spokesman Hidai Silberman said the attacks “send a message” that “we won’t allow Iranian entrenchment at all and next to the border specifically”.
The regime’s military said three troops were killed and one wounded near Damascus. It made its standard claim that “a number of rockets” were downed.
Contrary to its usual “no comment” policy on operations, the IDF explicitly named Iran’s military as a target on Wednesday:
Israel Defence Forces troops exposed improvised explosive devices on the Israeli side of the Alpha Line which were placed by a Syrian squad led by Iranian forces.
The IEDs’ exposure on Tuesday is further clear proof of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
IDF spokesperson Silberman said Israel had sent a previous message with attacks in August after a pro-Assad team tried to plant bombs along a fence in the Golan Heights, but it evidently “wasn’t received”.
Israel’s attacks are the first since mid-September, when they damaged a key missile production facility of the Assad regime near the city of Aleppo in northwest Syria.
Throughout Syria’s 114-month conflict, Israel has regularly struck regime and Iranian positions. It is seeking to prevent transfer of weapons and missiles to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, another essential backer of the regime, and to pressure Iran to withdraw its forces and Iranian-led foreign militias.
Since April, the strikes have escalated. Targets across the country have included Damascus International Airport, the T4 base in central Syria, positions with Iranian personnel and Iranian-led militia near the Iraq border, and Assad regime posts in southwest Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.