An Israeli Air Force F-15 fighter jet flies during an aerial demonstration.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
Syrian air defenses intercepted several Israeli missiles targeting an Iranian base west of the capital of Damascus, Syrian state media claimed on Wednesday.
Describing it as “a new Israeli aggression,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said Israeli fighter jets flying in Lebanese airspace fired a number of missiles toward the area of the Jamraya research center, targeting an Iranian base.
“This blatant aggression comes in the context of desperate attempts to raise the morale of terrorist organizations that are falling apart,” read a statement by the Syrian Army, adding that “dozens of field and intelligence reports confirm the close link between the Israeli enemy entity and the terrorist organizations in Syria.”
While a number of missiles did hit their intended targets, several others were intercepted by the Syrian air defenses, the SANA report said.
No information was given on damage or casualties.
“The general command of the armed forces holds Israel fully responsible for the dangerous consequences of its repeated, aggressive and uncalculated adventures,” the army statement added.
The scientific research center in Jamraya was established during the 1980s and is believed to be one of the most important research centers in the country, with weapons developed and stored there. An Iranian base has also been established in its vicinity, with several buildings that likely house soldiers and military vehicles.
Israeli jets are believed to have targeted the facility in the past, with the first reported strike on the center in 2013 and the most recent in December 2017.
Speaking in a conference call organized by the Israel Project, former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror stated that Israel has a very clear policy and will stop any attempt by Iran to transfer new technology to Hezbollah that might be a game-changer in a future conflict between Israel and the terrorist group.
“We will not allow Iran to take advantage of the situation in Syria to become stronger in the future,” he said. “Our policy is very clear.”
According to Amidror, while the exact nature of the target is not clear, Iran has used the Jamraya research center to enhance Hezbollah’s arsenal with more precise missiles and other sophisticated weapons.
Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria but has publicly admitted to having struck over 100 Hezbollah convoys and other targets in Syria, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that strikes will continue when “we have information and operational feasibility.”
This is the second alleged Israeli air strike in Syria in a month. On January 9, Damascus accused Israel of launching missiles targeting military outposts in the area of Qutaifa, in the Damascus countryside.
According to a SANA report, Israeli jets flying inside Lebanese airspace fired several missiles toward the Qutaifa area, causing damage near the military site. A statement released by the Syrian military’s General Command said that several missiles were intercepted by the regime’s air defenses, which also hit one of the Israeli planes.
Israel was then also reported to have fired two surface-to-surface missiles from the Golan Heights and another four missiles from the area of Tiberias. The Syrian Army statement claimed that all missiles were intercepted but that some damage was caused as a result of the interception.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.
Israel’s security cabinet went to the Mount Avital outlook on the Golan Heights on Tuesday and received a briefing from Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick and other senior officers.
Following the briefings, Netanyahu said that while Israel wants peace, it is “prepared for any scenario, and I suggest that no one test us.”