Syria says Israel carries out strikes near Damascus, Golan Heights border

Syrian state media reported that Israel had attacked targets in southern Syria just after midnight Tuesday.

The official SANA news agency reported “Israeli aggressions” in the countryside south of Damascus and on a village just south of Quneitra near Israel’s border with Syria in the Golan Heights.

There were no immediate details on the targets of the strikes or reports of casualties. However, the Ynet news site, without citing sources, said the targets likely belonged to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF generally maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria, refusing to publicly acknowledge its actions.

The reported strike comes a week after a rare strike claimed by Israel in response to what Jerusalem said was a failed Iranian explosives attack on the Golan Heights.

Last Wednesday, the IDF made a rare announcement of strikes against Iranian forces in Syria.

The military said it bombed “warehouses, command posts and military complexes, as well as batteries of surface-to-air missiles” in early morning retaliatory strikes following the discovery of mines planted near the Israel-Syria frontier. The military did not specify the location of the three sites, but they appeared to be military positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

On Thursday morning, the IDF also released aerial before-and-after photographs of two sites bombed in the strikes: a military complex used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force; and a command center of the Syrian military’s 7th Division, which Israel says cooperates widely with Iranian forces in Syria.

A before-and-after photograph showing the damage caused by the Israel Defense Forces to what it says is an Iranian military complex outside Damascus on November 17, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

Syrian state media reported that three Syrian soldiers were killed in the strikes. All three appeared to serve in air defense batteries that were destroyed by the IDF after they fired on Israeli jets.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 people in total were killed in the Israeli strikes, some of them Iranian.

This could not be immediately confirmed and was not reported by other groups in Syria.

A before-and-after photograph showing the damage caused by the Israel Defense Forces to a command center of the Syrian military’s 7th Division in southern Syria on November 17, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

The day before, IDF combat engineers disarmed three anti-personnel mines within Israeli territory, near the Syrian border, which the military believes were planted by Syrian nationals on behalf of Iran several weeks before.

Israel views a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria as an unacceptable threat, which it will take military action to prevent.

The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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