Israel attacks Damascus for 17th time this year

Just before midnight on Sunday 28th May the familiar sound of incoming missiles and Syrian Air Defence engagement woke me up. The first attack was seemingly thwarted but then a second wave resulted in a large explosion to the south-west of Damascus where any number of air-defence bases are located.

The Syrian Arab News Agency published the Ministry of Defence statement:

The army air defenses have repelled an Israeli act of aggression with missiles that targeted some sites in the vicinity of Damascus, and downed some of the missiles.

“At around 23:45 p.m. on Sunday, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial act of aggression with missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some sites in the vicinity of Damascus, and the army air defenses intercepted the missiles and downed some of them,” a military source said in a statement to SANA.

Damage is reported to be limited to material, this time no military or civilian casualties of Israeli unlawful aggression launched from illegally annexed Syrian territory.

EU-funded so-called war monitor SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) alleged that Israel targeted Hezbollah positions resulting in some injuries.

Israel rarely takes public responsibility for these airstrikes, 17 since the beginning of 2023, 12 since the double earthquake struck on the 6th of February. However, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant informed a security conference earlier this month that the current Zionist regime had greatly increased attacks on alleged Iranian military presence in Syria.

These strikes include the latest bombing of Aleppo International Airport on the 2nd May which put the humanitarian hub for the north of Syria out of service for almost a week, depriving the displaced and homeless of essential humanitarian aid. This was the second bombing of the Airport in two months. One Syrian Arab Army soldier was killed in the May 2nd attack.

This 2nd May attack was timed one day before the arrival of Iran’s President Raisi to Damascus for high level cross-sector meetings during which the reinforcement of Syrian Air Defence with Iranian military hardware was discussed.

All of these strikes violate international law. Israeli claims of targeting Iranian or Hezbollah positions is dishonest – the majority of the time it is Syrian Arab Army Air Defence personnel including high rank officers who are killed. This demonstrates that Israel is clearly trying to cause long term damage to Syrian defence capabilities. It takes years to fully train the Air Defence crews to operate the Air Defence batteries and radar etc. By picking off crew-members in each attack Israel is trying to ensure a weakness in Syria’s defence shield.

Iranian officers have been killed by Israeli attacks on Syria. In March two members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in the Israeli strikes.

Only two weeks after the earthquake tragedy in February, Israel bombed a residential area of Damscus, in Kafr Souseh, close to the Iranian Cultural Centre. At least five Syrian civilians were killed and dozens injured. This came in suspected retaliation for Resistance allied attacks on illegal US military bases in the north-east. While Biden feigned “no retaliation”, Israel conveniently stepped into the breach.

Israeli attacks have also coincided with an uptick in ISIS terrorist attacks since the February earthquakes including mass killing and kidnap of civilians east of Homs (two occasions) and against individuals and military targets in the north-east and in the south.

A few days before the latest attack by Israel, it is believed that remnants of ISIS forces in the southern Syrian region assassinated Hamad Al-Koumah, member of the Quneitra Governorate Council and Secretary of the Baath partisan division in the town of Ghadir Al Bustan.

The latest attack also follow Syria’s normalisation within the Arab world (Qatar excluded) and President Assad’s historic speech at the Arab League Summit. The speech in full with English subtitles is here.

What is sure is that the Axis of Evil is not going to allow Syria to bask in the recent optimism that has swept the country.

Originally published (Vanessa Beeley, Substack)

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