Israeli Strikes Target Northwest Syria; Iran-Backed Arms Depots Allegedly Hit: Reports
An image of an Israeli strike on Syrian targets released by the IDF, Nov. 18, 2020. Photo: IDF / Twitter.
Syrian state media said Israel carried out airstrikes in the northwestern part of the country on Thursday evening, airing videos it claimed were of the aftermath of the explosions.
Israeli strikes allegedly took place in the vicinity of the city of Masyaf, in the Hama Governorate, with Syrian state television reporting that air defense systems were activated. The Syrian military claimed that most of the Israeli missiles directed towards Hama and the port city of Tartus were shot down, but said two people were reported injured and that several fires were ignited
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition war monitor, said explosions could still be heard within the arms and ammunition depots of Iran-backed militias west of Hama some four hours after they were allegedly struck by Israeli planes.
The Arabic-language news channel Al-Arabiya cited claims by unidentified sources that the intended targets were workshops to manufacture precision missiles and drones, Hebrew media reported.
Israel did not comment on the reports. Syrian media routinely accuses Israel of carrying out strikes on its territory, though Israel seldom acknowledges individual instances.
Israeli leaders have repeatedly pledged to prevent Iran and its proxy Hezbollah — both of which came to the aid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his country devolved into internal conflict more than a decade ago — from entrenching themselves in Syria. The Israeli military has confirmed carrying out hundreds of strikes there to that end.
Last week, the Syrian military claimed that Israel carried out two attacks south of the Tartus Governorate and a third on Damascus, killing three soldiers and wounding three others. An anonymous Syrian officer told Reuters that an Iranian base south of Tartus, and a nearby air defense and radar station, were targeted in that alleged attack. Hezbollah outposts on the outskirts of Damascus were also struck, military defectors told the news agency.
The reports come amid a separate uptick in attacks by suspected Iran-backed militants against US forces in Syria. On Thursday, the US military confirmed that it struck Iran-affiliated militants in response rocket attacks on its bases in northeast Syria on Wednesday, in which three US troops sustained minor injuries. The US military says it remains in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of the Islamic State.