2 Syrian soldiers injured in alleged Israeli airstrike in western Syria

The strikes are the second in less than a week and the fourth in the last month.

F-35 Fighter (photo credit: Courtesy)
F-35 Fighter
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Two Syrian soldiers were injured and material damage was caused in an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting sites along the coast of Syria and in the center of the country on Monday evening, with Syrian air defenses responding to the strike, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

A military source told SANA that an Israeli airstrike was carried out from north of Beirut, targeting sites in the central and coastal region of Syria, adding that the majority of the incoming missiles were intercepted. Initial reports by Syrian sources indicated that the strikes targeted locations near Homs in western Syria and Tartus on the coast.

A woman was injured and a number of houses were damaged in Hermel in northeastern Lebanon due to shrapnel from the interceptions of Israeli missiles by Syrian air defenses, according to Lebanon's National News Agency.

Some of the targets were reportedly located near the Shayrat Airbase near Homs. The ALMA Research and Education Center reported in October that Iranian UAVs were being transferred to the Shayrat Airbase.

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

Shortly after the airstrikes, the airspace above the Golan Heights was closed to flights above 5,000 ft until Tuesday at 9 p.m.

The latest airstrike comes less than a week after an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted a site in the Zakya area, southwest of Damascus, on Tuesday night, causing material damage, according to the Syrian state news agency SANA. Opposition-affiliated media reported that the airstrikes last week targeted sites belonging to Iranian militias.

The SANA report added that the airstrike was carried out from the direction of northern Israel, but, unlike in most past reports on such airstrikes, did not mention air defenses being activated.

The Syrian Capital Voice site reported on Wednesday that the airstrikes targeted Iranian militia sites in the Seventh Division in Zakya.

The sites targeted included a weapons storehouse and a gathering point for the militias. According to the report, the entire storehouse was destroyed and a fire broke out at the site. Syrian air defenses responded to the attack. The Capital Voice stated that the attack was the first of its kind since Israeli airstrikes began on Iranian targets in Syria, without specifying why this was the case.

Days before the strikes in Zakya, Israel allegedly carried out a rare daytime airstrike on Hezbollah sites in Damascus on Saturday. The airstrike killed at least one Syrian Armed Forces soldier and wounded three others, according to SANA.

The Capital Voice reported that the airstrike in Damascus targeted a meeting of Iranian militia leaders and Hezbollah leaders, as well as a weapons storehouse to which weapons were transferred just hours before the attack. The strikes additionally hit a vehicle carrying Hezbollah militia leaders and an air defense battery, according to the report.

Earlier in October, Iranian militias warned of a "harsh response" after a number of Syrian and Iranian-backed forces were killed and wounded in an alleged Israeli airstrike near Palmyra in central Syria. 

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that an Israeli airstrike targeted a communications tower and a number of nearby sites, killing one Syrian soldier and wounding three others. The strike was carried out from the direction of the al-Tanf area near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders with Syria, a Syrian military source told SANA.

A joint operations room affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hezbollah and the Assad regime warned at the time that it has decided to respond harshly to the airstrikes after a number of operatives were killed and wounded in them, according to Hezbollah-affiliated media. It is unclear if the statement was referring to casualties other than those reported by SANA.

Over the past year, while Israeli strikes have intensified in Syria, the response time by Syrian air defense batteries has become quicker, leading the IAF to change how it acts during such operations including by having larger formation during operations so that more targets can be struck at once during an operation instead of having jets return to the same target over again.

Iran has begun deploying advanced anti-aircraft missile batteries to the region in an attempt to challenge Israeli jets.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.