Four reportedly killed in missile attack in Syria


What happened: The Syrian Ministry of Defence has said four Syrian soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in an Israeli missile attack last night.

  • According to Syrian media, Israel fired several surface-to-surface missiles at military positions close to Damascus, with several loud explosions heard across the capital.
  • Saudi Arabian TV Al Hadath news reported that the target of the attack was an Iranian shipment of weapons destined for Hezbollah.
  • The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims several missiles hit targets near Damascus International Airport that included Syrian military positions and Iranian military proxies.
  • In a separate incident yesterday an IDF drone thought to have been carrying out routine surveillance fell inside Syrian territory.
  • Also yesterday, the IDF and the Israel Police carried out a joint operation on the Lebanese border in which they foiled an attempt to smuggle a large shipment of weapons into Israel. Troops found two rifles and around 100 hand grenades.
  • Overnight, IDF special forces conducted counterterrorism activities in the West Bank. Overall, 12 suspects were arrested for involvement in terrorist activities. One Palestinian was killed, and three injured in an exchange of fire with the IDF.

Context: According to Syrian sources, this is the third time this month that Israel has attacked military targets inside Syria.

  • The last attack was on April 14, when several missiles hit Syrian army positions near Damascus.
  • Israel does not formally acknowledge every alleged strike but has said that it carried out hundreds of strikes on targets over the last few years in order to prevent smuggling of sophisticated weapons systems and against Iranian entrenchment inside Syria.
  • Despite this, Iran continues to send shipments of weapons into Syria on a regular basis.
  • Since 2015 Israel and Russia have established a “deconfliction mechanism” that has enabled the Israeli air force to strike Iranian military targets in Syria. Despite Israel’s criticism of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it appears this mechanism is still in place.
  • In parallel, Israel is taking part in a US-led defence summit in Germany to discuss international defence aid to Ukraine.
  • In addition, Israel’s National Security Advisor Dr. Eyal Haluta is in Washington to discuss the status of the JCPOA nuclear deal with US officials. Following his meeting with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the White House said Sullivan “emphasised that the United States is attuned to Israel’s concerns about threats to its security, including first-and-foremost from Iran and Iranian-backed proxies”.

Looking ahead: Overall the situation in Israel remains tense but calm. Israeli security forces remain on a heightened state of alert, which is expected to remain in place at least till the end of Ramadan and Israel’s Independence Day next week.

  • Regarding the drone that that fell in Syria, the IDF have opened an investigation into the incident.
  • On Iran, the White House press secretary Jen Psaki expressed concern that Iran has accelerated its nuclear programme. She told a press conference yesterday: “What Secretary Blinken said during his testimony this morning was that (Iran’s) breakout period is down from about a year, which is what we knew it was during the deal, to just a few weeks or less.”