Syria conflict: ‘Israeli jets’ strike outside Damascus (BBC)
Syrian state media say Israeli jets have fired two missiles from Lebanese airspace which struck outside Damascus.
4 hours ago
A military source told the Sana news agency that the missiles landed in the Sabboura area but caused no casualties.
The source did not say if anything was hit, but the highway from Lebanon to Damascus runs through the town.
The Israeli military has not commented. It is believed to have bombed weapons shipments intended for Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement in the past.
Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war.
The Syrian military source said Wednesday’s missile strikes were “an attempt to distract attention” from the Syrian army’s “successes” and a “bid to raise the morale of the collapsing terrorist gangs”, an apparent reference to recent rebel losses in Aleppo.
The pro-government Al-Masdar News website reported that the Israeli warplanes had fired Popeye missiles at Sabboura, 8km (5 miles) north-west of Damascus
“The overnight explosions were so loud they could be heard by an Al-Masdar News field correspondent in downtown Damascus,” it added.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, and social media users also reported hearing loud explosions overnight.
Al-Masdar said it was likely the strikes targeted a Hezbollah location or a senior member of the Shia Islamist movement.
The London-based Arabic news website, Rai al-Youm, meanwhile cited sources as saying that the first target was an arms depot belonging to the 38th Brigade of the Syrian army’s 4th Division.
The second target was a group of vehicles believed to be part of a Hezbollah weapons convoy, the sources added, stressing that no leaders were targeted.
The Israeli military declined to confirm or deny the reports.
The reported strikes come days after the Israeli military said its aircraft had targeted and killed four militants linked to so-called Islamic State in the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights, after they opened fire on a patrol on Israeli-occupied territory.
(British Broadcasting) BBC
With various heavily armed radical groups battling President Bashar Assad, Syria is Israel’s most unpredictable and unstable neighbor and poses one of the largest risks for a sudden escalation.
As an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow finds itself part of an alliance between Damascus and Tehran, the patron of Hezbollah.
Up until the Russian intervention in Syria, Israel enjoyed air superiority in the Middle East. But with the deployment of the mobile S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft batteries capable of engaging multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles up to 380 kilometers away, Moscow has restricted Israel’s Air Force.
With reports that Wednesday’s strikes were carried out from Lebanese airspace it is possible that Israel is trying to get around the missile batteries. But, despite the restrictions, Israel allegedly struck targets in Syria after Russia deployed the S-400 to Khmeimim Airbase in the south-eastern Syrian city of Latakia, and if Israel deemed the convoy to be too high of a priority not to hit, they may have taken the chance to carry out the strike despite the threat of the S-300 and S-400s.
As both Russia and Israel carry out military operations in war-torn Syria, the two have implemented a system over Syria to coordinate their actions in order to avoid accidental clashes. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met on several occasions and Netanyahu is said to have reiterated to Putin Israel’s “clear and understandable” red lines obliging Israel to act to prevent “game-changing weaponry” from getting into the hands of Hezbollah
In April Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that the IDF had carried out strikes in Syrian territory, saying that “We will not agree to the supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon. We will not agree to the creation of a second terror front on the Golan Heights. These are the red lines that we have set and they remain the red lines of the State of Israel.”
The border with Syria has been tense since the war there erupted in 2011, and while Israel has never publicly admitted to carrying out any strikes, Israel is suspected of carrying out occasional retaliatory strikes on Syria after stray rockets or mortar rounds struck Israeli territory.
Earlier in the week, Israeli jets struck a terrorist cell affiliated with Islamic State in Syria after its members fired across the border at an IDF unit. Four terrorists were killed, while no IDF soldiers were hurt.
It was the first clash between the IDF and an ISIS-linked group, an air force missile destroyed a vehicle carrying four operatives from the ISIS-linked Khaled Ibn al-Walid Brigade (formerly known as the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) who had opened fire at a Golani Brigade patrol in the southern Golan Heights.
The patrol came under attack by small arms and mortar fire from the terrorists from just across the border. An IAF aircraft silenced the fire.
“Israel will not let Islamic State or any other hostile organization use the chaos of the war in Syria to set up shop on Israel’s northern border,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.