For a second day in a row Israel has reportedly hit targets deep inside Syria. Syrian officials said Israel attacked the T4 airfield east of Homs in the centre of the country, and that Syrian anti-aircraft systems intercepted two missiles that were fired by Israel.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that five people were killed and a storehouse containing missiles and vehicles was destroyed in the air strike. The organisation said the area in question is used to store Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) equipment.
Israel believes that with a large presence of Iranian-backed troops in the area, both civilian and cargo airlines are used by the IRG as a front for military transport flights bringing in soldiers and weaponry to bolster Iran’s military presence in Syria.
Early on Sunday Israeli planes attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft battery, two artillery batteries and other bases after two rockets were fired at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, damaging a chair lift at Israel’s sole ski resort on Mount Hermon. Ten people were reportedly killed, including Syrian soldiers, Iranian nationals and Hizbullah fighters.
A statement from the Israeli army said they were not sure who was responsible for firing the rockets from deep inside Syrian territory, but Israel held the Syrian army responsible for all fire emanating from Syrian territory.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also holds the defence portfolio, said he “instructed the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] to take strong action” in response to the rocket fire.
“We are not prepared to tolerate rocket fire at our territory, and will respond with great force to any aggression against us. This has consistently been my policy, and this is what we will continue to do for Israel’s security.”
The national security advisers of Israel, the United States and Russia will meet in Israel this month to discuss regional security issues, with the focus on the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel and the US are both keen for all foreign forces to be removed from Syrian soil, returning the situation to what it was before the start of the Syrian civil war.
According to the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, quoting Western diplomats, Israel and the US will offer incentives to Russia in a bid to curb Iran’s influence in Syria, which could include legitimising the continued leadership of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.