5 Syrian soldiers killed in alleged Israeli airstrikes near Damascus

Initial reports from Syria claimed that Hezbollah militants were killed in the airstrikes.

Smoke rises after an U.S. airstrike, while the Iraqi army pushes into Topzawa village during the operation against Islamic State militants near Bashiqa, near Mosul, Iraq October 24, 2016. (photo credit: AHMED JADALLAH / REUTERS)
Smoke rises after an U.S. airstrike, while the Iraqi army pushes into Topzawa village during the operation against Islamic State militants near Bashiqa, near Mosul, Iraq October 24, 2016.
(photo credit: AHMED JADALLAH / REUTERS)

At least five Syrian soldiers and additional Iranian militia members were killed and more wounded in alleged Israeli airstrikes targeting sites near Damascus early Friday morning.

Syria’s SANA news agency said the strikes were carried out by surface-to-surface missiles from Israel’s Golan Heights toward targets near the capital at around 12.30 a.m.

According to the Syrian Capital Voice news site, seven “non-Syrian” Shi’ite militia members were killed in the airstrikes, including three members of the Hezbollah movement and four Iranian militants.

The strikes targeted a temporary warehouse containing electronic parts and chips used in missiles and drones on the outskirts of the Set Zaynab area, south of Damascus, as well as an air defense battery west of the capital, according to the report. The strike reportedly hit the warehouse as members of Hezbollah and another pro-Iran militia were meeting to receive the parts and transport them to their final destination.

While the Israeli military rarely comments on strikes in Syria, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai told KAN Reshet Bet radio on Friday morning that “the IDF operated in Syria last night. We continue to protect our security interests.”

A motorbike burns after an airstrike in this screen grab taken from a social media video said to be taken in Idlib, Syria on July 16, 2019 (credit: WHITE HELMETS/SOCIAL MEDIA VIA REUTERS)A motorbike burns after an airstrike in this screen grab taken from a social media video said to be taken in Idlib, Syria on July 16, 2019 (credit: WHITE HELMETS/SOCIAL MEDIA VIA REUTERS)

Additionally on Thursday night, Syrian journalist Nour Abo Hasan reported that Israeli forces, accompanied by a number of tanks, entered the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria after noticing a group of Syrian operatives and Hezbollah militants near the border fence. The militants fled the area after the Israeli forces approached, according to the report.

The last alleged Israeli strike in Syria was over two weeks ago when a Syrian militant working with the Syrian Army was killed by an alleged drone strike in Quneitra in southwestern Syria.

The man was identified as Farid Fouad Mustafa. The strike reportedly targeted a location west of Hader, near the Israeli border and the city of Majdal Shams.

Tartus airstrikes

Less than a week before that strike, two Syrian civilians were wounded in another alleged Israeli airstrike targeting sites near the coastal city of Tartus, the Syrian military said. Reports by opposition-affiliated media claimed that air-defense batteries from Iran were targeted in the strike.

In June, the Damascus International Airport was closed for weeks after alleged Israeli airstrikes destroyed runways at the airport.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Naser Kanaani condemned the latest strike and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its “continuous aggression.”

“The continuous aggressions of the Israeli entity on the Syrian territories are a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is a violation of international laws and principles,” he said.

Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s entrenchment in Israel’s northern enemy and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines.

Mossad interrogation

Earlier on Thursday, Iran International reported that the Mossad had interrogated a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) official identified as Yadollah Khedmati who confessed his role in transferring weapons to Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Khedmati acknowledged his role in the Logistics Wing of the IRGC and admitted that he had been in contact with Ali Asghar Nowrozi, a Guard Corps Quds Force official who has been identified by the IDF as responsible for transferring precision weapon components from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to the report.

Nowrozi was also a close associate of Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.

His interrogation is the second time that a senior IRGC operative was detained inside Iran by alleged Mossad operatives and taped confessing his role in the elite Iranian military wing.

In May, a video recording of a man identified as Mansour Rasouli was released showing him admitting that he was sent to Turkey by the IRGC to set up cells to assassinate an Israeli diplomat there, an American general in Germany, and a journalist in France.

After his interrogation, four Iranians died under mysterious circumstances over the course of a month, all in incidents blamed on Israel.