Syrian state television is reporting that Israel launched overnight airstrikes against an area in southern Syria overlooking the Golan Heights, where Western intelligence sources previously said Iranian-backed militias are known to be based.
The newsflash on state-owned Ikhbariyah channel did not give details, but revealed the strike was directed at Tel Haraa, which the Western sources identified as a strategically located area in southern Deraa. The site once served as a major Russian military radar outpost until rebels took it over in 2014, before it was later recaptured by the Syrian army last year.
The zone has been a target of previous Israeli raids against Tehran-backed militias seeking to establish a permanent presence just over Israel’s northern frontier. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that it says have targeted its regional arch rival, Iran, as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders.
Additional reports indicate last night’s attack targeted a weapons depot used by Iranian militias; and that another missile exploded at a base in the south-western Syrian Governorate of Kuneitra.
At the start of this month, Damascus accused Jerusalem of carrying out a major joint aerial and naval missile strikes on military targets in the capital Damascus and the western city of Homs. Post-attack satellite images were identified by the Image Satellite International company as a hangar likely storing advanced weaponry or other military equipment. Diplomatic sources at the time described the attacks as among the largest attributed to Israel in recent years, directed at the Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The July 1 strikes came only days after the national security advisors of Israel, the United States and Russia met in Jerusalem – where intelligence sources say the Israeli and American officials demanded the Kremlin act to ensure the withdrawal of Iran’s forces from the region.
After the trilateral security summit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his vow that the IDF would undertake all necessary action to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.