Syria says Israeli strike targets ‘military position’ in western Hama province

Source: Syria says Israeli strike targets ‘military position’ in western Hama province | The Times of Israel

State media claims some missiles intercepted by air defenses; several buildings destroyed and three ‘fighters’ injured in area believed to house Iranian, Hezbollah forces

This screenshot from a video released by Syria’s official news agency SANA allegedly shows Syrian air defenses firing on Israeli missiles in the province of Hama, April 13, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

Syrian state media said Israel carried out an air strike on military targets near the city of Masyaf in western Hama province overnight Friday-Saturday.

Syria’s official state news agency SANA said Israel Air Force jets fired missiles while flying from Lebanese airspace, destroying several buildings and injuring three people. Syrian opposition sources said the targeted sites served Iranian forces and their Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

“Around 2:30 am (2330 GMT Friday)… the Israeli air force carried out a strike targeting one of our military positions in the town of Masyaf,” SANA quoted a military source as saying.

SANA said Syrian air defenses intercepted some of the missiles.

“The enemy missiles were dealt with and some of them were shot down before reaching their target, resulting in the damage of a few buildings and the injury of three fighters,” SANA said, according to a Reuters report.

Earlier, SANA had reported explosions in the area’s countryside.

In February, an Israeli satellite imagery analysis company said that Syria’s powerful S-300 air defense system was “probably operational” in the area of Masyaf, where the recent strike reportedly occurred. The system would pose a potential threat to Israel’s aerial campaign against Iran in the country.

The firm, ImageSat International, based this assessment on multiple images of the anti-aircraft battery, which showed three of its four launchers in a raised position, signaling that they are likely ready to be used by the Syrian military.

Israel has threatened to destroy the S-300 system if it is used against its fighter jets, regardless of the potential blowback Jerusalem would face from Russia, which provided Syria with the powerful air defense battery.

Satellite photos released by ImageSat International appear to show three out of four missile launchers of the S-300 air defense system in the raised position in Masyaf on February 5, 2019. (ImageSat International)

Last month, Israel allegedly attacked Iranian targets near the northern city of Aleppo. SANA said at the time that the airstrike targeted several bases near an industrial zone by the airport and that air defenses had managed to intercept several incoming missiles.

Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz appeared to confirm last month’s attack, saying in an interview with Israel Radio late last month that “as far as Iran knows, it’s Israel” that carried out the strike, and went on to say that it was a “challenging” operation.

The strikes come at a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Syria, following last month’s decision by the US administration to recognize Israel’s control over the Golan Heights it captured from Syria in 1967. The decision sparked condemnation and protests in Syria.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security, and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

AFP contributed to this report.


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