Israel has carried out 202 strikes on Iranian targets in Syria over the past two years, the military has revealed, in a rare summary of its campaign against Iranian entrenchment in the neighbouring conflict.
“Only just now it was published – in the name of military sources, so I can quote it too – that in the last two years Israel has taken military action more than 200 times within Syria itself,” Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told a conference hosted by the IDC Herzliya college. His statement was later confirmed by a military spokeswoman.
“Understand the significance of this matter in terms of preserving the red line, preventing the things that Iran has done, is doing and is trying to do against Israel from Syria,” Katz concluded.
Israel has been concerned at the presence of Iranian forces backing President Bashar Al-Assad in the conflict, resulting in frequent Israeli strikes against certain Syrian targets.
According to Syrian news agency Zaman Al-Wasl, the Israeli air force struck a training camp for Hezbollah yesterday in the town of Baniyas in the coastal Latakia province. Syrian air defences reportedly managed to shoot down five of the missiles.
Citing a military source, state news agency SANA also confirmed yesterday that Israeli aircrafts had targeted “our military positions in the provinces of Tartus and Hama. The enemy missiles were dealt with and some of them were shot down.”
Israel is believed to have been behind the attack on Mezzeh airbase on Sunday that demolished a five story building used by Air Force Intelligence and pro-regime militias, killing several Iranian officials. The Syrian regime denied the strikes had taken place, instead attributing the blast to an electrical fault.
Reuters reported over the weekend that Iran has been transferring missiles to Shia proxies in Iraq over the past few months and that it is building missile manufacturing facilities in Iraq and Syria.
In response to the news, on Monday, Israel signalled that it could attack suspected Iranian military assets in Iraq, stating it would not hesitate to contend with “any Iranian threat”.
“We are certainly monitoring everything that is happening in Syria and, regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a conference hosted and aired live by the Israel Television News Company.
Israel is believed to have been carrying out air strikes in Syria in 2013 against suspected arms transfers and deployments by Iran and its Lebanese ally, the Shia Hezbollah militia.
These operations have largely been ignored by Russia, Damascus’ big-power backer, and coordinated with other powers conducting their own military operations in Syria.