A Blow to Assad: Israeli Strike Destroyed Five Syrian Anti-aircraft Batteries

Israeli jets hit Syria's air defenses after they fired dozens of missiles at them during the strike ■ Damage joins destruction of three other batteries during February's Iran drone incident

Missile fire is seen over Daraa, Syria May 10, 2018.
\ ALAA AL-FAQIR/ REUTERS

Israeli jets destroyed five Syrian antiaircraft batteries early Thursday morning and, dealing a heavy blow to embattled Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s air defenses.

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After Iranian forces fired 20 rockets at Israeli military positions on the Golan Heights on Wednesday night, Israel Air Force planes entered Syrian airspace to attack dozens of Iranian targets on Syrian territory. The Syrians fired dozens of antiaircraft missiles at the Israeli jets but did not hit any of them.

In response, the army attacked five Syrian antiaircraft batteries and destroyed them all. The IAF said all the batteries belonged to the Syrian army and were Russian-built models: SA-22, SA-2, SA-5 and SA-17.

The Russian Ministry said reported that 28 Israeli jets took part in the strike, firing more than 60 missiles, adding that Syria shot down more than half of Israel's missiles.

Range of Iranian missiles

Twenty-three fighters were killed in the strike, 18 of them foreigners, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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In February, the army destroyed three other Syrian antiaircraft batteries after an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace. Israel then attacked the drone’s launch and control van and the Syrians fired antiaircraft missiles at the Israeli jets, shooting down an Israeli F-16 flying over Israel. The IDF estimates that about 20 antiaircraft were fired at the Israeli planes, and the remnants of at least four fell in open areas inside Israel.

Map of targets of Israeli strike in Syria

In response, Israel attacked the Syrian air defense system and destroyed the three batteries that fired the missiles, as well as attacking four Iranian targets inside Syria.