“The IDF will continue to protect the skies of the State of Israel and its security.”
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted extensive strikes in Syria and sirens went off in Israel on Tuesday night when an apparent routine IAF strike against terror targets in Syria escalated.
The IAF conducted strikes against terror targets in the Damascus area, as it has done several times in recent weeks. The Syrian Army’s air defenses responded to the attack and fired at the IAF fighters.
One of the anti-aircraft missiles entered Israeli air space, setting off Red Alert sirens in the city of Umm Al-Fahm and the area of Samaria. The missile exploded mid-air. The Israeli air defenses did not perform an interception, “as it was not needed,” the IDF stated. The SA-5 missile was flying at a high altitude and apparently did not constitute an immediate threat.
In response to the incident, the IAF struck surface-to-air missile targets in Syria, including radar and anti-aircraft batteries.
“The IDF will continue to protect the skies of the State of Israel and its security,” it stated.
Syria’s official SANA news agency reported that the first IAF attack was conducted from the direction of Beirut, and the counterstrike with surface-to-ground missiles was conducted from the direction of the Golan Heights.
A soldier was killed and five others were wounded, in addition to material losses, SANA’s report said.
Similar incidents have occurred in recent months. In September 2021, one of the ground-to-air missiles launched by the Syrians following an attack in the Damascus area penetrated Israeli airspace. The SA-5 missile was located in Tel Aviv. In response, the IDF attacked a Syrian SA-5 battery and destroyed it.
In April 2021, a similar incident occurred, and the Syrian anti-aircraft missile exploded in the Dimona area in the south.
Iran and Hezbollah have in recent years been working to build up a military presence in Syria, a threat that remains a red line for Israel.
Iran routinely attempts to arm the Lebanon-based Hezbollah with advanced weapons. Israel has exposed and thwarted multiple attempts by Iran to transfer game-changing weapons to Hezbollah, including by air shipments from Iran, through Damascus Airport.
Over the years, the IAF has carried out thousands of attacks to thwart the Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country and to prevent Hezbollah from accumulating advanced game-changing weapons.
Most recently, on February 1, the IAF hit a military outpost and weapons depot operated by Hezbollah near the Syrian capital Damascus.
“Sites operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah group … in the east Qalamoun region, northeast of Damascus, were hit by Israeli strikes at dawn,” the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
According to the SOHR, the IAF conducted 29 strikes in Syria throughout 2021. The attacks hit 71 targets and killed 130 people, including 125 combatants from the Syrian military, Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
The Damascus area was the most attacked area in 2021, with 12 attacks out of the 29. The Damascus airport, which serves as an entry point for weapons coming from Iran on its way to Hezbollah in Lebanon, was one of the main targets.