On Monday, Israeli airstrikes killed four Syrian servicemen and injured six others, besides damaging infrastructure in some parts of the Damascus International airport, according to a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD). Contrary to its normal practice of secrecy, the Israeli military confirmed the strikes in a statement, saying that it had targeted Iranian Quds forces stationed in Syria. It also warned the Syrian army not to retaliate by attacking Israeli territory or forces.
Syrian state media quoted a military source as saying that their air defense systems repelled intense bombardment by Israeli guided missiles or bombs over the 48 hours before Monday. The Russian MoD said that there were over 30 Israeli missiles fired towards Syria in the last two days.
The strikes were preceded by aerial crossfire between Israel and Syria on Sunday, which was confirmed by both sides. According to Syrian state media, Syria’s Pantsir and Buk air defense systems successfully intercepted seven Israeli guided missiles targeted at the southern part of the country. The report said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets flew above the Mediterranean Sea whose eventual target was the International airport, southwest of Damascus. No damage or casualties were reported.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the airport attack, saying that it was part of the country’s “permanent policy to oppose Iran’s attempts to gain a foothold in Syria. Israel also reported intercepting a rocket fired at the Israeli-occupied Northern Golan heights, without specifying where the rocket came from.
These were the second series of Israeli airstrikes on Syria in the last 10 days, following the missile attack on Damascus airport by Israeli fighter jets on the night of January 11-12. Most of the missiles were destroyed by Syrian air defenses, but some of them caused damage to several buildings inside the airport, including an aircraft repair hangar. Several parked planes were also damaged.
A huge bomb explosion was also reported in Damascus on Sunday. Syrian state news agency SANA said that the explosion occurred near a highway at the southern edge of the city. No victims were reported. It confirmed that a terrorist had been arrested.
Iran has pointed out on multiple occasions that contrary to Israeli claims, its military involvement is restricted to some advisors who are in the country at the request of president Bashar al-Assad.