The PJ Tatler

Mystery Surrounds Israeli Air Strikes Near Damascus

Planes apparently belonging to Israel struck two targets near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday. Both the Syrian military and the opposition group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the attacks but differed on the targets struck.

Haaretz:

There were no reports of casualties in the reports, but the general command of the Syrian army said in a statement that several facilities had been hit, both at the Damascus International Airport and in the area of Dimas.

According to the reports, the Israeli air force flew at least 10 sorties over the Dimas area and attacked several military targets. Residents of Damascus reported hearing loud explosions on the outskirts of the city.

Al-Mayadeen, a pan-Arab television channel that is regarded as being close to both Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, reported that Syrian anti-aircraft batteries stationed at the airport had fired two missiles at the planes during the attack.

Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied the reports and it is unclear how reliable they are.

“This aggression proves Israel’s direct involvement in supporting terror in Syria, along with other Arab and regional countries,” the Syrian military command said..

“The Israeli attack was designed to lift the morale of the terror groups, primarily Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State, after the blows they have received from the Syrian army.”

Lebanese sources that the Israeli air force had been flying over southern Lebanon since Sunday morning. It was not specified whether the planes entered Syrian air space or fired from within Lebanese air space.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a planned live video broadcast on Sunday evening due to “events in Jerusalem.” The premier made do with a short, pre-recorded speech to the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, being held in Washington.

Earlier, during the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel “is following the Middle East and what is happening very closely, with wide open eyes and ears – and a lot is happening.

CNN reports that last October, the Israeli air force struck targets suspected of transferring sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah:

In October, Israeli warplanes struck a military base near the Syrian port city of Latakia, an Obama administration official told CNN.

The target, according to the official, was missiles and related equipment the Israelis feared might be transferred to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. The official declined to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information.

Asked for comment on that strike, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman told CNN, “We don’t refer to foreign reports.”

In May of 2013, Israeli jets hit the same airport in Dimas, destroying a shipment of Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah. It seems more than possible that the Israeli attack today was to interdict weapons bound for Israel’s enemies.