Syria’s president Bashar al-ancestral Assad’s home region and the key Russian bases in Syria are both close to where Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on Iranian targets on Sunday, according to sources in the region’s intelligence services and the Syrian military.
In two simultaneous Israeli attacks south of the province of Tartous and another on the capital of Damascus, the Syrian army previously reported that three personnel had been killed and three had been injured. There were no particular location specifics provided.
According to two Syrian military defectors familiar with the area, the strikes on the northeastern suburbs of Damascus targeted facilities maintained by the pro-Iranian Hezbollah organization in Lebanon.
An Iranian facility close to the village of Abu Afsa, south of the port city, as well as a neighboring air defense and radar station were both attacked, a Syrian army officer in the Tartous coastal region told Reuters under the condition of anonymity.
Israel has launched hundreds of attacks in recent years on claimed Iranian targets, but has largely refrained from attacking the coastal provinces where most of Russia’s military equipment is based.
According to Israeli and regional military experts, the most recent strikes are a part of an escalation of a low-intensity conflict that aimed to stop Iran’s escalating encroachment in Syria.
The attacks took place close to Tartous, the only Mediterranean facility for the Russian navy, where Russian vessels are berthed, as well as Moscow’s main Hmeimim air base, which is located close by in the province of Latakia.
In a battle that has lasted more than ten years, Russia’s intervention and that of Iran helped swing the balance in Assad’s favor.
Most of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, which controls the top echelons of the security force and army, live in coastal districts.
Russian troops in Syria routinely ignore Israeli airstrikes targeting alleged Iranian-sponsored arm transfers and deployments.
However, due to Russia’s investigation of a Jewish emigration service and Israel’s criticism of the Ukraine war, tensions between the two countries have risen.
Israel described the encounter as a “one-off incident” last month after claiming that Russian anti-aircraft fire struck its military jets over Syria in May.
Syria accused Israel of carrying out significant airstrikes on its main international airport in Damascus in June, which severely damaged the runways and prompted a suspension of flights for a number of weeks.
According to Israeli defense officials, Iran frequently transports militias and weapons through the civilian airport.