Eight pro-Iran Militiamen Killed in Israel Strike in Syria, Watchdog Says

The Syrian state-run news agency says the Israel military struck areas near Damascus and Quneitra early Wednesday, where opposition says there is a strong Iranian military presence

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Missiles flying into the sky near international airport, in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019.
Missiles flying into the sky near international airport, in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019.Credit: AP

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said early Wednesday that Israel struck two sites in the country's south, which would be the second such attack within a week.

On Wednesday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight non-Syrian nationals were killed in the strike, which also destroyed a missile depot affiliated with Hezbollah and Iran near Damascus and Quneitra.

According to the SANA report, one attack targeted a village south of Quneitra, and the second hit Jebel el Mania, a suburb south of Damascus. It also said that the country's air defenses were activated in response to the strikes.

QuneitraCredit: Google Maps
Jebel el ManiaCredit: Google Maps

The Israeli military did not comment on the report, as is routine for strikes in Syria.

There are Syrian military bases and posts in Jebel al Mania, and according to the Syrian opposition, there are Iranian forces stationed there as well. There have been past strikes against the Iranian presence in the area that have also been attributed to Israel.

The Syrian military said that Israeli aircraft carried out the strikes in the Damascus and Golan regions. It added that the strike in Jebel el Mania caused only material damage, but did not elaborate further.

Last Wednesday, in a rare move, Israel said it carried out an airstrike in Syria that targeted an Iranian unit that Israel says is responsible for planting explosives on the Israeli side of the countries' border on two separate occasions.

Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman confirmed the attack on eight targets, including “arms depots, military headquarters and compounds and surface-to-air missile batteries.” 

“Syria allows Iranians to continue to establish themselves in its territory, including in the southern Golan Heights,” Zilberman said.

The attack came one day after the discovery of the second line of explosive devices on the Israeli side of the Syria-Israel border in three-and-a-half months. The Israeli military holds a unit of the Iran Revolutionary Guard responsible, which it says pays local Syrians to place Iranian-supplied explosives there.

Western intelligence sources say Israel's stepped-up strikes on Syria in the last few months are a part of a shadow war, approved by Washington and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran's extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.

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