For the second time in less than a week, Israel has reportedly struck targets near Damascus, with the Syrian regime’s air defenses intercepting some of the air-to-ground missiles.
“Our air defenses are confronting an Israeli missile attack on one of our sites in the Damascus suburbs, and three of the targets were downed,” SANA reported.
According to the Syrian state news agency SANA, Israel targeted a military scientific research center on the outskirts of the capital late Monday night, and Syrian air-defense systems intercepted three of the Israeli missiles.
According to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news site, Israeli warplanes flew over southern Lebanon at a low level before launching six missiles toward the research center in the Jamraya area around 11:30 p.m.
“The Syrian defenses confronted the aircraft in the area, as the area itself had been subjected to Israeli raids more than once,” Al-Mayadeen reported.
The scientific research center in Jamraya was established in the 1980s and is believed to be one of the most important research centers in Syria, with weapons being developed and stored there.
Israeli jets are believed to have targeted the facility in the past, with the first strike on the center said to have occurred in 2013.
Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria, but it has publicly admitted to having struck more than 100 Hezbollah convoys and other targets in Syria. On Saturday, Syrian media reported that Israel fired five missiles at an Iranian base near the town of al-Kiswah, 15 kilometers southwest of Damascus.
SANA reported that Syrian air defenses “confronted an Israeli attack with ground-to-ground missiles,” and the air defenses intercepted and destroyed three Israeli missiles.
In September, the BBC revealed satellite imagery that purportedly showed Iran had established a military base with several buildings in Syria that likely housed soldiers and military vehicles.
According to the report, which was based on a Western intelligence source, the Iranian base is some 50 km. north of the Golan Heights. While the BBC stated it could not independently verify the purpose of the base and presence of Iranian troops, Israel has warned of the growing entrenchment of Iran in Syria.
Satellite images of the base released Monday showed rubble left over from a previous air strike.
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.
On Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer reiterated Israel’s position on Iran, telling Politico that Jerusalem understands “exactly what their goals are.”
“Israel will not allow that to happen,” he said. “We are not going to allow Iran to establish these permanent bases, military bases on land, sea or anywhere else. We’re not going to allow them to take over, because we understand exactly what their goals are, the threat they pose to us, and we have to make sure that we’re doing everything to push them back.”
Dermer accused Iran of stoking tensions in Syria and warned that the chances for military confrontation on Israel’s northern border were growing.
“If Iran is not rolled back in Syria, then the chances of military confrontation are growing,” he said. “I don’t want to tell you by the year or by the month. I’d say even by the week.
“Because the more they push, we have to enforce our redlines, and you always have the prospects of an escalation, even when parties don’t want an escalation. So in taking action to defend ourselves, you don’t know what could happen. But I think it’s higher than people think,” Dermer said.
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