Syrian air defenses respond to alleged Israeli airstrike near Homs

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday

Attack in Syria on August 25, 2019. (photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)
Attack in Syria on August 25, 2019.
(photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)
At least nine Iranian militants and members of the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in the Palmyra area of Syria on Monday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Three of the dead are of Syrian nationality, according to SOHR.
Syrian air defenses were activated in response to an alleged Israeli airstrike on Monday night and managed to down a number of "enemy missiles", according to Syrian state news agency SANA. The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news reported that the alleged Israeli attack had "failed."
The attack was conducted from Lebanese airspace and targeted Iranian positions in the desert near Palmyra in central Syria, according to SOHR. Al-Mayadeen reported that the attack targeted a military site north of the Palmyra airport.
Brigadier General Ahmed Rahal, a Syrian officer who defected from the Assad regime, claimed that the airstrike targeted a high-ranking Iranian general in Palmyra who was taking part in a meeting between Iranian officers and Syrian officers. According to the officer, all those at the meeting were killed.
The opposition-affiliated TV station Halab Today quoted local sources as stating that the airstrikes targeted a command center headed by the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group near Al-Sukhnah and a training camp for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Al-Talila area near Palmyra, as well as targets near the Palmyra airport.
During Israel's Holocaust Memorial Ceremony on Monday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned "the threats of radical Islam sponsored by Iran will not dissipate in the coronavirus storm...and we're determined more than ever to respond to them." Even though the IDF is helping fight the coronavirus, it is also "more than ever" to thwart all dangers both near to and far away from Israel's borders, added Netanyahu.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus on Monday.
According to Iran’s Mehr News, one of the reasons behind Zarif’s trip to Damascus was to reaffirm Tehran’s role in Syria.
Earlier this month, an alleged Israeli airstrike launched from Lebanese airspace targeted the al-Shayrat airbase in the Homs Governorate, the same governorate where Palmyra is located, according to the SOHR. A cargo plane had flown between the airbase and the T-4 airbase shortly before the airstrikes occurred. The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news agency reported that the targets were missile bases east of Homs.
Satellite imagery released after the strike by ImageSat International (ISI) showed "massive" damage to the al-Shayrat airbase.
On March 5, an attack on the same area that was also attributed to Israel was carried out from Lebanese airspace and the Golan Heights, according to SANA.
Homs is nearly 125 miles (about 200 km.) away from the Golan Heights.
The attack near Palmyra on Monday also comes just days after an alleged Israeli airstrike on a vehicle along the Syria-Lebanon border, although the identity of the target of the strike is still unclear. Security camera footage of the strike was shared later on social media, but the target remains unidentified by any official source.
Israel has repeatedly warned that it would not tolerate Iran building up its forces in Syria. Airstrikes on Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias throughout Syria have been blamed on Israel, although Israel has only claimed direct responsibility for a small number of them.
Anna Ahronheim and Reuters contributed to this report.