Israeli fighter jets on Sunday afternoon hit targets outside Damascus in a brazen day-time raid that most likely targeted a Hezbollah-bound weapon shipment
Israel struck an area near the Damascus International Airport—south of the capital—as well as Dimas, a town near the Lebanese border along the international highway leading to Damascus, Syrian state TV reported.
The report added that there were no casualties in the attack, while Hezbollah’s Al-Manar and Syrian outlets said that Syria had fired surface-to-air missiles at the Israeli jets.
The General Command of the Syrian armed forces linked the Israeli attacks to the insurgent campaign against the regime, saying the strikes followed “Syrian army victories in Deir Ezzor and Aleppo.”
“The Israeli attacks will not deter us from our fight against terrorism.”
Meanwhile, Israeli state authorities did not comment on the raid, as per their normal policy, with an Israel Defense Force spokesperson telling Reuters he wouldn’t comment on “foreign reports.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli warplanes conducted a raid on import and export warehouses storing weapons in the military zone of the Damascus International Airport.
Another raid targeted military zones in Dimas outside Damascus, with at least 10 explosions being heard in the area, the monitoring NGO added.
Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar cited security sources as saying that “eight Israeli enemy planes raided two sites, one of which is close to Damascus International Airport and the other close to the Dimas sailplane airport to the northwest of Damascus.
The sources said that the targeted Dimas site consists of “a group of hangars inside a military facility.”
However, the daily did not elaborate on whether there were any weapons in the facilities.
Israeli leaders have publicly said they would strike any shipment of “advanced weapons” from Syria to Hezbollah, calling such a move a red line, indicating the current strike probably hit a weapon consignment.
The Washington Post reported that the strike most probably hit a weapon shipment.
“This is part of an Israeli pattern where, when they see a shipment of destabilizing arms going to Hezbollah, they strike,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow Jeff White told the US daily.
Haaretz said that the “air strike was probably aimed at warehouses where arms shipments that arrive by air from Iran are stored, while the border area was bombed to prevent an arms convoy from moving toward Lebanon.”
The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi cited Syrian sources as saying that the raids “probably targeted advanced Russian [S-300 missiles] intended for transfer to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
The sources added that the airport in Dimas is a warehouse for sophisticated Russian-manufactured air defense systems.
Meanwhile, Israeli media outlets speculated that the weapon shipment consisted of advanced Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missiles.
Despite past Israeli warnings to strike weapon shipments headed for Lebanon, Hezbollah has boasted that it would continue to receive advanced arms.
In May 2013, following Israel airstrikes in Syria, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah boasted in a televised speech that “Syria will give the resistance qualitative weapons, which the resistance has never received before.”
“We, the resistance in Lebanon, announce that we are ready to receive any sort of qualitative weapons even if it is going to disrupt the [regional] balance,”
Israel on alert
Israeli forces went on alert along its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria following the raid, with heavy drone and surveillance plane overflights reported across southern Lebanon on Sunday evening.
“The Israeli army increased its level of alert along the border, especially in the Shebaa area, in anticipation of any developments that could occur after the raid in Syria,” Lebanon’s state National News Agency reported Monday morning.
The previous day, blasts could be heard along the border as IDF troops conducted extensive military drills.
Hezbollah has retaliated twice in the past year to Israeli actions. In mid-March, the Shiite group planted an IED to target an Israeli patrol along the border, in a move Nasrallah described as retaliation for Israel targeting a purported weapon shipment from Syria that had crossed into Lebanese territory.
On October 7, the militant group once again detonated an IED targeting an Israeli border patrol, this time in retaliation for the death of a Hezbollah operative after Israel remotely detonated an espionage device he had been inspecting.
Hezbollah did not make any public statements on the latest Israeli attack in Syria.