Syrian forces fired anti-aircraft systems in response to a deadly Israeli attack in the western province of Hama, a monitor reported Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported explosions and an unspecified number of casualties in the Masyaf area, after an Israeli air raid against regime positions.
Israel attacks Syria
“The area is under the Syrian army’s control and Iranians are present there,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
He said the target was a factory and research centre producing short-range surface-to-surface rockets.
“Our air defence systems responded to an Israeli attack over Masyaf in rural Hama,” state news agency SANA reported.
Residents in neighboring Lebanon reported hearing the Israeli warplanes flying at low altitude over parts of the Mediterranean country, on their way to bomb in Syria.
The airstrike is the latest in a series of Israeli attacks in Syria in the past few weeks, despite the coronavirus pandemic gripping the region, and comes amid rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group in Syria, as well as along the Lebanon-Israel border.
Israel’s airstrikes: a common occurrence
Israel, which did not immediately comment on the reports, has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.
It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria, but says Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar al-Assad is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.
Israeli airstrikes near the Syrian capital in April killed three civilians, state media said.
“Three civilians were martyred and four others wounded, including a child, because shrapnel from Israeli missiles fell on houses” in the suburbs of Damascus, the official SANA news agency said.
Syrian air defenses had downed “most” of the Israeli missiles launched from Lebanese air space shortly before dawn.
Before this, at least three Syrian soldiers were wounded by Israeli helicopter fire near the annexed Golan Heights in February.
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) February 27, 2020
“Israeli helicopters launched missiles above the occupied Golan Heights, hitting (Syrian) army positions at Kahtaniyeh, Al-Horiyyat and the liberated town of Quneitra, leaving three wounded among the troops,” SANA said.
Hezbollah says Israel insecure about missile production in Syria
Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.
They have targeted Syrian troops as well as allied Hezbollah fighters and Iranian targets, according to monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Last week, Israel’s outgoing defence minister, Naftali Bennett, pledged to keep up operations until Iran leaves Syria.
But Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, in a televised speech, denied any Iranian troops were present in the war-torn country.
Nasrallah charged Wednesday that Israel had been waging an “imaginary battle” against Iranian troops in Syria, insisting that Tehran had sent only “military advisers and experts”.
But he conceded that Israel was attacking targets “linked to missile production in Syria”, saying the Jewish state feared that the manufacturing of “precision missiles” could spell “new dangers” for Israel.
Nasrallah also denied Iran and its allies were in a battle for influence with Russia in the neighbouring country and said their chief aim was “preventing Syria from falling under the hegemony of America and Israel”.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk