The Syrian city of Damascus was hit by missile strikes at dawn on Thursday morning and according to the official news source SANA, warehouses and a fuel tank were damaged. The Israelis reported conducted the missile attack at the Damascus airport.
But according to Syrian rebel forces, the missiles struck an arms depot used by Hezbollah. Hezbollah and its main source of support, Iran, are backing the government forces of Assad and are considered by Israel to be their worst enemy.
The Israelis issued a statement in which the said that the explosion was “consistent” with its policy to prevent Iran smuggling weapons to Hezbollah. But their statement stopped short of claiming responsibility for the strikes.
The Israelis according to Haaretz said ‘Hours before the blasts, which took place at 3:25 A.M., two Iranian 747 cargo planes, an Iranian Ilyushin il-76 and a Syrian Ilyushin il-76 landed in Damascus, according to the flight radar tracking site Flightradar24.com. The flights were both military and commercial, all taking off from Tehran, Iran.’
Two senior rebel sources based in Damascus told Reuters news agency that the missiles had hit an ammunition depot in a closed military area that was used by Iran-backed militias operating alongside the Syrian army, led by Hezbollah.
Appearing to confirm Israeli involvement, Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio: “I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel’s policy to act to prevent Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Iran. Naturally, I don’t want to elaborate on this.”
“The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicated an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act.”
The Israeli military declined to comment on the reports.
With the Russians reportedly strengthening the Syrian air defenses after the US cruise missile strike earlier this month, there were questions on how Israel would act. The Israelis hit Hezbollah targets since the civil war began.
An earlier attack this month destroyed 100 missiles destined for Hezbollah. But the Syrians launched missiles at Israel earlier this month as well. One of them was intercepted by Israeli missile defense systems.
The Israeli’s and Benjamin Netanyahu have made it clear that they’ll continue to hit any Hezbollah targets as they see fit.
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Photo courtesy AFP