- REUTERS/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Garst/U.S. Navy/Handout
- Nine pro-Syrian fighters were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday.
- Videos of the alleged strike were seen across social media.
- The incident comes shortly after President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and enact fresh sanctions against what he called “the leading state sponsor of terror.”
Nine pro-Syrian fighters were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike near the Syrian capital of Damascus on Tuesday, shortly after Israeli forces determined “abnormal movements of Iranian forces” in Syria.
On Tuesday night, state-owned media outlets in Syria reported that its air defenses intercepted two Israeli missiles; however, the Syrian media is believed to have inflated its defensive capabilities in the past.
The reported strikes targeted an “arms depot belonging to Hezbollah and the Iranians,” according Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, according to the AFP.
Videos of the alleged strike were seen across social media:
— Asaf Ronel (@AsafRonel) May 8, 2018
— Ahmad Algohbary (@AhmadAlgohbary) May 8, 2018
Israel’s military typically does not publicly discuss its airstrikes, but it recently took several steps indicating an escalating conflict with Iranian forces. On Tuesday, the Israeli army ordered the opening and preparation of missile shelters in the occupied Golan Heights, but stopped short of instructing residents to occupy the shelters.
Military reservists were also activated and missile defense batteries in northern Israel were placed on high alert, according to The Times of Israel.
“The IDF is ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios and warns that any action against Israel will be answered with a fierce retaliation,” the Israeli army announced, according to The Times.
The incident comes shortly after President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and enact fresh sanctions against “the leading state sponsor of terror.”
“Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American servicemembers, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens,” Trump said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction,” Trump continued. “Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”
Israel previously launched airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, striking Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps locations in April. Prior to that, Israel and Iran were battling each other in the skies, with each suffering losses – in February, an Iranian drone and an Israeli F-16 were shot down, in addition to 12 Syrian and Iranian military facilities being damaged.
As a strategic ally to Syria and a longtime nemesis of Israel, Iran continues to expand its influence with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime by sharing dozens of military bases and positions.