Smoke rises following an explosion on the Syrian side near the Quneitra border crossing between the Golan Heights and Syria, August 29, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Air Force reportedly struck a vehicle located in a Druse village in southwestern Syria on Wednesday, killing Hezbollah men and a pro-Assad militiaman, as well as a military base in Lebanon.
The Druse village, Hader, is located near the Golan Heights.
The second strike targeted a Lebanese military installation near the Syrian border, wounding six, according to Arab media reports. It is believed to belong to a pro-Syrian Palestinian faction. In a newsflash, Syrian state television quoted a military source as saying that Israeli planes had struck a base belonging to the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, a faction that backs President Bashar Assad. The attack occurred at 3:15 p.m.
The earlier strike on the Syrian Druse village occurred at 10:45 a.m. and allegedly involved an Israeli drone attack on a car on the outskirts of Hader. That attack killed three members of a militia fighting alongside the Syrian military. The attack was reported by Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV and other Lebanese media.
The dead were identified as members of the National Defense Forces, a pro-Damascus militia whose members often come from the areas where they fight.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, said that five people – two members of Hezbollah and three Syrian-Druse members of the pro-government “People’s Committees” militia – were killed in the attack.
The Observatory added that the People’s Committees cell was led and supervised by convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar. Kuntar was released by Israel in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli reservists killed by Hezbollah in 2006.
The IDF declined to comment, saying it “does not relate to foreign reports.”
Prof. Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria from the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night that “it sends a clear message from Israel not to cross a redline and not to mess with us.”
The message to Hezbollah and its Syrian allies, the expert said, is that “Whenever we find something prepared against us we will be there.”
Referring to the reported Syrian casualties, Zisser said that “Clearly there are Syrians working for Iranians and Hezbollah.”
Asked if he sees the attack as related to the Iranian nuclear deal, he replied in the negative, asserting that it appears to be purely a tactical matter.
In January 2015, according to foreign media reports, an IAF aircraft fired missiles at a military convoy in the Syrian town of Quneitra, near the Israeli border on the Golan Heights, killing 12 Hezbollah and Iranian operatives.
In April, the Israel Air Force struck and killed four Syrian-Druse terrorists who planted explosives on the border with Israel, near Majdal Shams.
In March, the IDF identified a terrorist cell operating on the Syrian part of the Golan Heights and attempting to plant a bomb on the border with Israel. The attack was orchestrated by Hezbollah, according to security sources.
The incident occurred weeks after Hezbollah threatened to retaliate for an alleged Israeli bombing on one of its bases near the Lebanon-Syria border on February 24. International media reports said Israeli jets hit a Hezbollah base in eastern Lebanon where recently smuggled advanced weaponry from Syria was being stored.
Reuters contributed to this report.