Israel continues its campaign of targeting Iranian-affiliated sites in Syria

Israel continues to operate its “war between the wars” campaign against Iranian activity in Syria with airstrikes in the city of al-Zabadani, located near the Lebanon-Syria border on Wednesday morning. This is the second instance of an Israeli attack against Iranian-affiliated positions in Syria in less than a week.

At approximately 1:30 in the morning local time, reports surfaced in Tyre, Lebanon of Israeli aircraft flying at low altitude. A short time thereafter, the Syrian state-controlled news agency (SANA) reported air defense units were actively responding to an Israeli attack in the Damascus countryside.

Residents near the area of the attack posted footage online which showed a large explosion after the airstrikes occurred.

SANA followed-up its initial report with an assessment of the damage caused by the airstrikes.

“At exactly 1:30 am today, the Israeli enemy carried out an air assault with bursts of rockets from northern Galilee, targeting a unit of our air defense in the Nabi Habil area in the Damascus countryside. Our air defenses intercepted some of the aggressor’s missiles, which resulted in one martyr, wounding of three soldiers and material losses,” the statement said.

Evidence of an air defense unit being targeted in the attack was corroborated by reports of the death of First Lieutenant Sharaf Ali Ma’an Houla, from the Syrian Air Defense Corps, during the attack.

However, the footage of the blast and pictures posted on social media, suggests multiple targets were attacked. Footage of the blast including pictures taken of the aftermath of the strike indicates a missile production site or ammunition depot was also hit in the airstrike.

This assessment falls in line with previously reported Israeli attacks against Hezbollah sites in Syria.

Less than a day after the airstrikes, Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin repeated warnings that Israel would act against Iranian activity in Syria and the transfer of precision missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“The Middle East is very explosive. We will not accept Iranian capabilities on the [Israel-Syria] border, and we will not accept precision missiles in Lebanon,” Norkin stated.

The repeated attempts by the Israeli military to thwart Iranian-affiliated activity in Syria over the last week and previous months indicates Iran continues to be undeterred with its project of entrenchment along the Golan Heights as well as supplying Hezbollah with precision missiles.

Joe Truzman is an editor and senior research analyst at FDD's Long War Journal focused primarily on Palestinian armed groups and non-state actors in the Middle East.

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