Alleged Israeli airstrike hits weapons factory near Damascus - report

5 pro-Iranian militants, as well as a number of Iranian engineers, were reportedly killed in the strike.

 Missile fire is seen over Damascus, Syria January 21, 2019.  (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Missile fire is seen over Damascus, Syria January 21, 2019.
(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted sites south of Damascus on Monday night, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

A Syrian military source told SANA that Israeli aircraft carried out the strike from over the Golan Heights, targeting some points south of Damascus. The source claimed that only material damage was caused, with no casualties reported.

The Syrian Capital Voice site reported on Tuesday morning that the strike had targeted a factory for developing Iranian weapons in the town of Aqraba, south of Damascus.

According to the report, the strike was carried out in a single wave, resulting in the complete destruction of the factory, without any other sites targeted. Five members of pro-Iranian militias, who were protecting the factory, as well as a number of Iranian engineers working on developing weapons, were killed in the strike, according to the Capital Voice.

Photos were shared on social media by loyalists to the Syrian government showing a residential building reportedly damaged by the strike. According to the Capital Voice, the photos showed a building near the factory and that the factory itself had been cordoned off by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

 SMOKE RISES following Israeli airstrikes in Rafah on ‘Black Friday,’ August 1, 2014. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90) SMOKE RISES following Israeli airstrikes in Rafah on ‘Black Friday,’ August 1, 2014. (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

Despite the Capital Voice’s report that no other sites were hit, the opposition-affiliated Halab Today TV reported that an additional warehouse near the Damascus International Airport was hit during the strike as well, resulting in the death of three members of the Syrian military and the injury of six others.

The Israeli ALMA Research Center reported on Tuesday that a Syrian air defense battery near al-Kiswah was hit as well during the strike.

Series of alleged Israeli strikes hit Syria in May

The last alleged Israeli strike reported in Syria was on May 20, when the Syrian Defense Ministry claimed that three people were killed after surface-to-surface missiles were launched from the Golan Heights towards sites south of Damascus. Later reports by accounts loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that the three killed were members of the Syrian military’s air defense.

In that strike, sites in and near the Damascus International Airport were targeted and extensive damage was caused, including on the northern runway of the airport which has reportedly been used by Iran for aircraft carrying supplies for its forces and proxies in Syria and Lebanon. A compound belonging to the IRGC at the airport was also seemingly hit in the strikes.

After the strikes, flights by aircraft believed to be used by Iran to carry supplies to Syria were halted at the Damascus International Airport due to the damage to the runway, although they seemingly renewed on Tuesday after a Qeshm Fars Air flight took off from Tehran to Damascus, according to OSINT account Aurora Intel. The airline is believed to be used to carry weapons to Syria.

Earlier in May, alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near Masyaf, including entrances to underground tunnels that were completely destroyed, according to images published by Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International. ISI assessed that the facility targeted is related to Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center. Five people were killed and seven people were injured in that strike, according to Syrian state media.

Just days before that strike, two alleged Israeli strikes targeted sites in the Quneitra region in southwest Syria near the border with Israel, according to Syrian and Iranian reports. The sites in the area were reportedly associated with Hezbollah and the Syrian military.

Israel hitting the head of the octopus

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee that “the State of Israel is acting against the head of the octopus of terrorism and not just against its arms.”

“The days of immunity, in which Iran attacks Israel and spreads terrorism through its proxies in the region, but remains untouched – those days are over,” added Bennett. “We operate, at any time and place, and will continue to do so.”