Israel on Monday, January 21 carried out airstrikes on Iranian targets inside Syria, the Israeli Defense Forces and Syrian state news agency said.
The IDF said its fighter jets targeted munition storages sites, a military site at Damascus international airport, an intelligence site and training camp belonging to the Quds force, the elite expeditionary unit within Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps that has been active in Syria for most of the civil war.
Syria launched surface-to-air missiles during the strike, prompting the IDF to target the Syrian armed forces’ air defense batteries, the military said.
Four Syrian soldiers were killed and six injured in the strikes at Damascus airport, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.
The IDF said the strikes were in retaliation for a missile fired at the Golan Heights on Sunday which it said was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
Iran has not commented on the strikes.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said the military’s air defenses had “confronted an Israeli attack that targeted the Syrian territories and prevented it from achieving its objectives.”
During our strike, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were launched, despite clear warnings to avoid such fire. In response, we also targeted several of the Syrian Armed Forces' aerial defense batteries. pic.twitter.com/rHxJqqpI9n
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) January 21, 2019
“On January 21, 2019 between 2:11 a.m. and 2:56 a.m. the Israeli Air Force carried out three air strikes on Syria’s territory from the western, southwestern and southern directions. While repelling the strike, the Syrian air defenses destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs,” Tass reported the Russian military command in Syria as saying.
Video released by the IDF of the strikes on the surface-to-air missile battery appeared to show Syria’s air defenses failing, missing their targets and exploding midair before the Pantsir missile system was destroyed.
Israel rarely publicly comments on such strikes, but last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had targeted Iranian and Hezbollah targets inside Syria “hundreds” of times.
His comments came a day after SANA reported that Syrian air defenses had shot down Israeli missiles, but a warehouse at Damascus international airport had been hit.
Israel has previously carried out several bombings in Syria against what it says are Iranian military targets and arms deliveries to the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah. Many of those have been in the area south of Damascus.
On December 25, Assad accused the Israeli air force of firing missiles near Damascus.
In September a Russian Il-20 electronic signals aircraft was accidentally shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire that was attempting to block Israeli missiles.