Israel Reportedly Hits Syrian Army Sites in Damascus, Local Media Claims

Unconfirmed reports by pro-regime Syrian news outlets claim Israeli air force hit military positions outside local airport.

Daniel Bar-On

For the second time in the last two weeks, since the deployment of the Russian air forces in Syria, the Syrian media reported an Israeli airstrike near the Damascus airport Wednesday morning. The target of the attack was not clear.

The report, published by Damascus Now, a news outlet affiliated with the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad, claimed that military sites near the airport were hit Wednesday morning, and suggested that an initial investigation pointed to Israel. As a result of the alleged attack, a fire broke out and heavy smoke was reported in the area. Blasts were also reportedly heard.

Defense officials said that if an Israeli airstrike was carried out near the Damascus airport, it could indicate that Israel had detected a weapons convoy in the area. Israeli officials said in the past that transferring certain kinds of weapons to terror organizations like Hezbollah were, as far as Israel was concerned, "crossing a red line."

The officials said that if an attempt to cross that line is detected, Israel will retaliate. 

At the end of October, Syrian opposition forces claimed that the Israeli air force attacked facilities belonging to Assad's regime and to Hezbollah forces in the Al-Qalamoun Mountains in Syria, near the Lebanon border.

Late in September, after Russia began its air operations in Syria, the Israeli and Russian chiefs of staff met in Moscow and agreed to form a joint committee to coordinate their militaries' activities in Syria. The committee would coordinate both naval and aerial activities, as well as electro-magnetic activities, to avoid interference in electronic warfare, a senior Israeli officer told reporters at the time.

Last April, Israeli warplanes reportedly attacked Syrian army bases where Hezbollah stored long-range missiles in the same area, a report Israel vehemently denied, attributing the attack to fighting between Hezbollah and the Al Qaida-linked Nusra Front.