Loud explosions heard near Damascus in suspected Israeli air strike

Analysts say Israel frequently targets Iranian arms transfers in Syria

This image grab taken from a video released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on February 6, 2020, shows an explosion following an Israeli air strike on an undisclosed location in Syria. - Israeli air strikes killed 12 pro-Iran fighters in Syria, a monitor said, the latest in a spate of raids Israel has said targeted Iranian ambitions to develop a military presence on its doorstep. A Syrian army source quoted by state news agency SANA said air defences responded to two waves of Israeli strikes after midnight that targeted the Damascus area and then positions in Daraa and the adjacent province of Quneitra. (Photo by - / SANA / AFP) / == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / SANA" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==
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Explosions were heard across Damascus on Sunday morning following a suspected Israeli air strike.

Syrian opposition media and Crisis24, a risk consultancy, said the explosions were likely the strike and anti-aircraft missile fire. Syrian opposition said the air strikes were targeting a transfer of Iranian weapons at Al Dimas, west of Damascus. Syrian and Iranian military forces are said to be co-located in the area.

Israel has conducted hundreds of air strikes on Syria since 2013, aiming to halt weapons transfers by Iran, to Iran-backed militias in the country and in some cases, beyond to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The weapons transfers have involved upgrades to unguided rockets, drones, both long and short-range, and even ballistic missiles smuggled across Iraq and into Syria.

While Israel rarely comments on strikes, Israeli defence analysts say Tehran aims to establish another front for attacking Israel over the occupied Golan Heights, in addition to bolstering Hezbollah’s formidable arsenal of missiles in Lebanon.

Israel’s response has at times been particularly aggressive, striking civilian airports in Aleppo and Damascus, which it says have become staging areas for Iranian groups.

In April, Israel said six rockets had been fired at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, causing no casualties.

On the contested strategic high ground, Israel has at times been able to fire back into Syria using artillery and surface-to-surface missile systems. Israel relies on a fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets, almost invisible on enemy radar systems, to stop weapons transfers deep within Syria.

The Israeli air force has lost one jet during the more than decade-long campaign, when an F-16 was shot down returning from an air strike mission, crashing in northern Israel in February 2018.

Updated: October 01, 2023, 7:36 AM