Latest Israeli raid near Damascus airport highlights ongoing tensions with Iran

Latest Israeli raid near Damascus airport highlights ongoing tensions with Iran

Arab media reports that as a result of an Israeli air strike on an armory near the Damascus airport, several Syrian government soldiers and pro-Iranian militias were killed.

Syrian television reported that government air defense missiles responded to Israeli airstrikes in the early hours of Saturday morning near the Damascus airport. This was the last Israeli attack on Syrian territory since Israeli missiles hit targets at Aleppo airport on September 6.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the British opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Arab media that Israeli airstrikes had killed five government soldiers and two pro-Iranian militias overnight in Israeli airstrikes.

He notes that it is not clear whether the Israeli attack was inside or outside the direct perimeter of the Damascus airport, but says that the explosion of the weapons depot that was the target could be heard close to the area controlled by Lebanese Hezbollah militants.

Israeli media reports that this is the 25th attack by Israeli forces on Syrian territory this year. The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV channel reported that pro-Iranian militia forces recently retreated from their positions near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria due to “fears of a security breach.”

In addition to hitting pro-Iranian militia forces near Damascus airport, Israeli attacks included positions near the Damascus suburbs of Sayyed-Zeinab, al-Kuswa and an area called Ghasul Farms. The Lebanese Hezbollah militia is reported to be storing rockets and drones in the area.

Syrian analyst Bassam Tallab told government television that several foreign governments, including Turkey, Israel and the US, are “continuing aggressive policies in Syrian territory in the north and east of the country,” claiming that the ongoing conflict in Syria “serves Israel’s interests.”

Hattar Abu Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told VOA that despite the Russian presence in Syria, Israel continues to attack the weapons stores of pro-Iranian militias in the country when it feels they pose a threat.

He said Saturday’s attack was another blow to Iranian military infrastructure in Syria, including Tehran’s efforts to supply Lebanese Hezbollah with precision-guided missiles and other weapons from an Iranian military compound in Syria and elsewhere.

Russia recently withdrew one of its S-300 missile defense systems from the Syrian coastal region near Latakia, moving it to Crimea as its conflict with Ukraine continues. It is unclear whether this prompted more aggressive Israeli attacks on Syrian territory.

Abu Diab says tensions between Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah “could provoke conflict at some point” amid an ongoing dispute over maritime borders between the two countries and offshore gas resources.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah reportedly threatened on Saturday to attack Israeli offshore gas operations amid tensions.

Joshua Landis, who heads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, told VOA that “Iran and Israel are fighting each other in Syria” and that “high-stakes talks over Iran’s nuclear capabilities have reached a climax, which partly explains the more dramatic attacks on Iran.” in Syria.”

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