Israeli planes strike Hezbollah stronghold in Syria

Weapons depots hit in Qalamoun, between Damascus and border with Lebanon

FILE PHOTO:Hezbollah fighters stand near military tanks in Western Qalamoun, Syria August 23, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo
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Israeli planes bombed military positions north of Damascus on Tuesday, Syrian pro-government media reported, in the second day of attacks on the Qalamoun area of Syria where Hezbollah has a strong presence.

The official news agency Sana said the Israeli planes operating above the occupied Golan Heights fired missiles at “a number of military positions in the Damascus Countryside”, which is a separate governorate surrounding the capital.

“Our air defences confronted the missiles of the aggression and downed some of them,” Sana reported a Syrian military official as saying.

Other media outlets loyal to President Bashar Al Assad reported that among the targets were weapons depots in the towns Yabroud and Qutaifa in the Qamaloun Mountains, between Damascus and the central city of Homs. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

On Monday, Israeli planes attacked the same area, which is regarded as a core position in the Iranian zone of influence in Syria. Local militias in the region were formed and supervised by Hezbollah with Iranian backing.

The main motorway linking the north and south of Syria passes through the area, which traditionally was one of the main smuggling routes between Syria and Lebanon. It is thought to be the main route by which Tehran supplies weapons and military technology to its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The mountainous area also provides a defensive buffer for Damascus. During the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah were stationed in the region as it opposed the uprising against Mr Al Assad's regime.

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, Israel has increased its attacks on Iranian-linked targets in Syria, while Tehran has vowed to support its militia allies across the region in attacking Israel to relieve pressure on Hamas.

Israeli attacks on Syria have been aimed at airports and weapon storage sites, to disrupt Iranian supply lines. A number of commanders belonging to Hezbollah as well as Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have been killed in the strikes.

Updated: March 19, 2024, 12:17 PM