Israel air strikes in Syria kill three troops, hit Iranian targets

Clay Curtis
November 19, 2020

An Israeli military statement said its fighter jets hit "military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds force and the Syrian Armed Forces", in overnight strikes.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government troops.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the strikes had killed three of its soldiers and wounded another.

"The actual planting of the IEDs (improvised explosive devices) was done by Syrian locals but the guidance, instruction and control was by the Iranian Quds Force - that is why we made a decision to retaliate against them in Syria", Conricus said. "We will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria".

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit an air defense center, posts and ammunition warehouses for Iran-allied militias in and around the Damascus airport, as well as other targets to the south of the capital. Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who visited the northern border on Tuesday, said that Israel would not tolerate the planting of explosives in the Golan. These included five Iranians from the elite Quds Force, as well as at least two Shi'ite militiamen from Lebanon or Iraq.

The Israel-Syrian border saw a number of similar incidents in recent months.

Zilberman added that "the exposure of the explosives site is further proof of Iran's effort to establish its long-term stay in Syria".

A map depicting the location of IEDs uncovered by the IDF along the border with Syria in the Golan Heights. Credit IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
A map depicting the location of IEDs uncovered by the IDF along the border with Syria in the Golan Heights. Credit IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

The IDF generally maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria, refusing to publicly acknowledge its actions, with the exception of retaliations to attacks, as was the case this week.

"We have no organized presence in Iraq or Syria", Gen. Hossein Dehghan told The Associated Press. The Quds Force is the expeditionary wing of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers directly to the supreme leader. "Today, we can say that the assassination created a hole in the Iranian leadership", he said, describing it as a "strategic strike, perhaps much bigger than strikes on Iranian weapons transfers".

Israeli soldiers drive military vehicles during an exercise in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria, Aug. 4, 2020.

The report of the killing of three military personnel was confirmed by the media; however, it was unclear whether the casualties were Syrian or Iranian-backed troops.

Israeli experts have said Netanyahu is concerned that President-elect Joe Biden, Obama's former vice president, will seek to re-engage Iran diplomatically, possibly by restoring the nuclear deal.

Israeli soldier monitors the area near Israel's border with Syria. There was no comment from Israel.

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