Israeli jets struck a Syrian military target and a Hezbollah weapons convoy early Wednesday, Arabic-language media reported Wednesday morning.
Israeli warplanes struck the military target in the Syrian capital of Damascus, while the raid on the weapons convoy occurred on the Damascus-Beirut highway, according to the reports.
As with past claims of Israeli strikes, Israel did not immediately confirm or deny news of the purported attacks. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in March 2011, a number of airstrikes in Syria or close to the border with Lebanon have been attributed to Israel.
News agencies affiliated with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad said the air raid on the military compound occurred at 1:15 a.m. local time and that four large explosions were heard in the capital. They further reported that the strikes were carried out by Israeli Air Force planes operating in Lebanese air space.
The official Syrian news agency on Wednesday confirmed there was an airstrike near Damascus overnight, and blamed Israel, saying the attack was an attempt to bolster the morale of rebel fighters as they suffer the successes of regime forces.
Arabic-language media had reported earlier that Israeli aircraft struck a Syrian military target as well as a Hezbollah weapons convoy.
The second reported raid, on the Hezbollah weapons convoy, was said to have taken place on the Damascus-Beirut highway. The Syrian official made no reference to it.
The raid early Monday was the second Israeli airstrike to respond to an attack a day earlier by IS fighters against IDF soldiers. According to an army spokesperson, soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit came under attack from small arms fire after crossing the security fence on the border but remaining inside Israeli territory. They returned fire, but soon came under attack from mortar shells. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the exchange, the army said.
The IDF responded with an airstrike that morning that killed four members of an Islamic State-affiliated terror group that it said had launched the attack. The military said the second airstrike Monday was also in response to the initial attack.
For the first time in three months, Israeli jets reportedly struck targets in Syria early Wednesday morning, hitting a Bashar Assad regime military base and a Hezbollah convoy en route to Lebanon, according to foreign media.
Once regular occurrences, these types of alleged Israeli attacks have slowed in recent months, with many pointing to Russia’s deployment of the advanced S-400 missile defense system as being the cause.
A senior air force officer, speaking to reporters earlier this week, noted the Russian military’s deployment in Syrian to support the Assad regime presented “challenges” for Israel and made for “interesting times.”
The S-400 anti-aircraft battery and its powerful radar, which are situated in the eastern Syrian city of Latakia, have hindered Israel’s once unchallenged air superiority in the region, according to most experts, though the IDF and Defense Ministry loath to publicly complain about the situation.
But Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has had serious implications not only on the immediate, technical issue of Israel’s air superiority, but on a strategic level as well.
And so, despite the S-400, Israeli aircraft allegedly took to the skies just after midnight Wednesday, and launched two attacks at two different locations inside Syria.
According to local media, the first strike hit a weapons cache on an army base in Damascus belonging to the 38th Brigade of the regime’s 4th Armored Division, one of the Syrian military’s more elite units, which is commanded by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother Maher.
The second hit a number of vehicles traveling on the Damascus-Beirut highway, which are believed to have been part of the Hezbollah weapons convoy, according to the Kuwaiti news network al-Rai.
“Israeli intelligence, it seems, found a transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and Israel decided that this wasn’t going to happen,” Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, the former National Security Adviser, told Army Radio Wednesday night.