Israel’s airstrike on what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed were Iranian “weapons depots” at Syria’s Damascus airport over the weekend may have also targeted and wounded members of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps leadership, according to a report by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida.
The report quotes sources in the IRGC in an exclusive statement to Al-Jarida saying the Israeli attack targeted a meeting of several members of the IRGC’s elite Quds force, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syrian army head discussing a future joint offensive by Moscow and Ankara against the Al Nusra front in Idlib province, considered the last major stronghold for Syrian rebels – in addition to Iranian military installations and weapons depots.
The attack reportedly took place just after the meeting ended as the groups were leaving. At least two IRGC officers and a Hezbollah officials were seriously injured in the strike, as well as several officers from the Syrian army, according to the report.
Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel has been behind hundreds of strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in remarks confirmed by Israeli Defense Forces outgoing Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot who emphasized the IDF’s victories against Iran and Hezbollah under his leadership over the course of four years.
“The [Israel Defense Forces] has on hundreds of occasions attacked targets of Iran and Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said on Sunday at the opening of his weekly cabinet meeting, just two days after the IAF strike.
“Just in the last 36 hours did the [Israel Air Force] attack Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the international airport in Damascus,” the premier said.
On Friday, Syrian state news agency SANA reported that the country’s air defenses intercepted missiles fired at the Damascus international airport at around 11:00 p.m. local time, with a military source attributing the attack to Israel.
The source claimed that a warehouse belonging to Syria’s ministry of transport was hit and damaged.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said that the strikes targeted “two areas hosting military positions of Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.”
Israel gave no initial comment on Friday’s reported strikes, but has previously acknowledged carrying out hundreds of attacks in Syria over the years against what it says are Iranian military targets and advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.
On Saturday, the Syrian foreign ministry said that Israel was able to “get away” with such raids in the country because it is backed by the United States.
The United States has said repeatedly that it will continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself against Iran and Hezbollah, including through targeted strikes in Syria, in the wake of its decision to remove American forces from the country.
Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2019
The abruptly announced decision to quit Syria had taken US allies by surprise, and Israel worried over whether Iran would be left with free rein to operate there and whether Russia would respond to its calls to limit it.
Netanyahu has vowed to intensify Israeli action in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal.
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