A site belonging to the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center is located in Masyaf and has been targeted by Israeli airstrikes in the past
By TZVI JOFFRE, JERUSALEM POST STAFF
F-35 warplanes doing a flyover in 2018 in Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
At least nine people were killed in alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted Syrian defense factories near the city of Masyaf in northwest Syria on Thursday night, according to Syrian reports.
Four of the dead were Syrian nationals, but it is unclear if they were Syrian soldiers or working for the Iranian forces, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The death toll is expected to rise due to the presence and condition of people wounded in the attacks, as well as reports of additional deaths.
The airstrikes were conducted by IDF aircraft from over Lebanese airspace, a Syrian military source told SANA.
According to the Step News Agency, the airstrikes targeted four defense factories belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in an area where missiles are manufactured. The strikes destroyed munition depots and weapons and targeted sites where surface-to-surface missiles are manufactured, according to SOHR. While the site is run by Syria, Iranian forces are present at the site, SOHR’s director told Al-Arabiya.
As often occurs after alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria are reported, the airspace above the Golan Heights east of the Jordan River was closed to all flights above 5,000 ft on Thursday until July 4.
Damage, but no casualties, were reported by SANA. Despite the reports by SANA, a reporter for Step stated that ambulances were heard heading to the scene. Pictures shared on social media reportedly from the scene of the attack showed large fires.
A site belonging to the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) is located in Masyaf and has been targeted by Israeli airstrikes in the past. In 2017, two soldiers were killed in an airstrike blamed on Israel, according to the BBC. The SSRC site in Masyaf was used to produce chemical weapons, according to the BBC.
Additionally, satellite images released by Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat Intl (ISI) in July 2019 showed the complete deployment of four Russian-made S-300 missile defense systems in Syria’s Masyaf province.
Last month, alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted a research center and military base in Aleppo. There is an SSRC site located in Aleppo as well that is also reportedly used for the development of missiles and chemical weapons.
The strikes on Thursday, attributed to Israel by Syrian media, are the first since Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz began serving as Defense Minister. Earlier this week Gantz visited Northern Israel along with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Head of the Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, the Commander of the 210th Division Brig.-Gen. Amit Fisher and other senior officers.
During the visit he heard about the security challenges facing Israel’s north, including Iranian presence in Syria and developments in Lebanon.
Israel has allegedly conducted a number of airstrikes in recent months as part of its “war between wars” against Iranian forces and militias backed by Iran in Syria. Airstrikes attributed to Israel have targeted dozens of sites belonging to Iran and Iranian-backed forces in recent years.
Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.