Israeli warplanes carried out several air strikes on Damascus Airport last night, hitting military targets as part of a campaign to remove Iranian forces from the region, Syrian state media have reported.
Syria’s air defence systems were mobilised in response to the “hostile” targets in the sky above the capital.
The attack was allegedly aimed at Iranian ammunition depots in the city. Fresh supplies were flown into Syria from Tehran on Wednesday.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the civil war through a network of sources inside the country, said that seven people — four Iranians and three Syrians — were killed after Israel hit military targets near the international airport.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that he did not know anything about the attack. “Maybe it was the Belgian air force,” he told Radio Haifa sarcastically.
Syrian media said that the country’s air defences downed several missiles coming across the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before they hit their targets in Damascus.
Videos on social media posted by residents of the area showed mid-air explosions lighting up the night sky.
— AS-Source News (@ASBreakingNews) February 13, 2020
Last week, SANA reported that Israel had attacked military targets in western Damascus. According to SOHR, missiles were fired at bases used by the Syrian army and pro-Iran militias.
It was also reported that 23 people were killed in a similar attack last week, including pro-Iran militiamen.
Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett took credit for the strike: “Foreign media reported this week that 23 Syrians and Iranians were killed there. Those are large numbers and we will do more and more.”
The escalation comes after the main figure behind Iran’s campaign in Syria, General Qassem Soleimani, was assassinated in Baghdad by the US on 3 January. His key aide, Asghar Bashpour, was killed near Aleppo last week.