(Photo:JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Syria: Israel Attacked Syrian Military Base

Attack comes amid increased tension over Iranian presence and military support in Syria and Lebanon

Israel’s alleged attack early Wednesday morning on a Syrian military facility is the second in less than a month, but it’s unlikely the opening salvo in a larger military campaign either in Syria or Lebanon. Israeli fighter jets bombed the Jamraya Research Facility northwest of Damascus, according to a statement by Syria’s General Command of the Army.
“Warplanes of the Israeli enemy on 3:42am on Wednesday fired several missiles from inside the Lebanese territories on one of our military positions in Damascus Countryside, and the air defense intercepted the missiles and destroyed most of them,” the statement reads.

It’s unclear if there were any casualties or the extent of the damage. The Israel Defense Forces, IDF, did not comment. The attack was launched just hours after Israel’s security cabinet toured the Golan Heights on Tuesday, where Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued yet another warning to Israel’s enemies, saying “we desire peace, but remain prepared for any scenario, and I don’t propose to anyone to test that resolve.”

The Prime Minister’s comments follows other recent statements from top Israeli military and political officials warning about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria and Lebanon – a “red line” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and other officials say will not be crossed.

Still, the continued warnings and ongoing rhetoric doesn’t mean Wednesday’s alleged attack is the start of larger Israeli military operation, experts tell The Media Line.

Dr. Gabi Siboni, a retired IDF colonel and senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said the latest attack in Syria is likely the continuation of Israel’s efforts “to block the opening of an Iranian front in the Syrian arena as well as in Lebanon”.

“Israel will not tolerate the development of an Iranian footprint in Syria or Lebanon,” Dr. Siboni told The Media Line. “The language that is most understandable in the Middle East is kinetic language.”

Israel has launched at least 100 attacks since 2011 on Syrian military facilities, weapons depots and convoys headed for Lebanon or destined for the Lebanon-based Iranian backed Hizbullah’s hands. The IDF has confirmed some of these attacks. Israel has also retaliated against incoming fire from Syria during the country’s vicious and bloody civil war.

Last week, a Russian security delegation visited Jerusalem in an attempt to dissuade Israel from launching further attacks in Syria, and to try and temper the escalating tension between Israel and Lebanon. The visit came shortly after a meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in which they discussed the growing Iranian presence in the Middle East region.

The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said during a briefing with journalists after their meeting. “We also spoke about Lebanon, which is becoming a factory for precision-guided missiles that threaten Israel. These missiles pose a grave threat to Israel, and we cannot accept this threat.”

The latest attack in Syria is unlikely to disrupt relations between Israel and the Russians, said Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror (ret.), Israel’s former national security advisory under Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“We do not coordinate with the Russians. We do not ask their permission. What we have with the Russians is a kind of a dialogue where we put our options on the table,” Maj. Gen. Amidror told The Media Line. “It’s an Israeli decision, and if the Russians don’t like it at least they understand it. As they have said publically, they know about the concerns of the Israelis.”
He explained that Israel has a very clear policy in Syria: Preventing the Iranians from building, with the help of the Syrians, facilities and places in which Hizbullah can enhance its military capabilities, mainly, the use of precision guided missiles and rockets.

Wednesday morning’s attack was likely launched to once again prevent this from happening, analysts agree.

While Syria is more equipped to stop Israeli air strikes, Israel also remains very capable of taking out any and all legitimate targets – that includes targets in Lebanon.

“We understand that and this is why we are warning Hezbollah and the Iranians. (Israel) will stop any attempt to allow the Iranians to build their new launching pad against Israel in the future,” Maj. Gen. Amidror warned. “And we (Israel) will stop any attempt to transfer such technology to Hizbullah.”

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