Israeli missile strikes around the Syrian capital of Damascus struck numerous Iranian-backed military sites Monday night.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, five Iranian-backed non-Syrian militiamen were killed and four others were injured. The observation group said it was unclear if those injured and killed militiamen are of Iranian nationality or affiliated with another pro-Iranian group such as the Lebanese Hezbollah group. The Israeli missiles also reportedly injured seven members of the Syrian “air-defence forces” and destroyed a missile depot.
“Israel airstrike Syria this evening,” a Twitter user posted with footage of a purported missile strike. “Retweet#Syria #airstrikes #damascus #Israeli #israel #worldwar3 #WW3.”
Israel airstrike Syria this evening
— W.E.E.D (@WEEDandflyhigh) July 20, 2020
Syrian military defectors who spoke with Reuters said the Israeli strikes also hit a major Iranian-run ammunition depot near the Syrian town of Kiswa, where the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is believed to be active.
“At least six Israeli missiles hit several positions belonging to regime forces and pro-Iran militias south of Damascus,” Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said, in comments reported by The Times of Israel.
A Syrian military spokesman claimed in a statement reported by Reuters, that the Syrian air defenses had, in fact, stopped most of the missiles.
Footage shared by the China Global Television Network shows Syrian air defense systems attempting to shoot down incoming missiles over Damascus. The Chinese broadcaster narrated the footage, indicating the Syrian defenses managed to stop most of the missiles, but did indicate “seven soldiers from the government forces were injured”
Air defense systems could be seen in other footage shared from Syria on Monday night.
The latest strike comes around three weeks after another Israeli strike on June 28 hit positions of Iranian forces and Iranian-backed Syrian and non-Syrian militias near the Syrian city of Al-Bokamal. At least nine Iranian-backed militiamen were killed, including some non-Syrian militiamen. Other militiamen were also injured in the attack and an ammunition depot was destroyed.
The previous Israeli airstrikes in Syria have prompted Iran and Syria to announce a military partnership between the two countries, with Iran pledging to boost Syrian air defenses.
Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah have declared an “axis of resistance” in recent years against Israeli strikes. The two countries and Hezbollah have continued their alliance throughout the Syrian Civil War and Iranian forces have also supported the Syrian government in their fight against the Islamic State.
Israel has acknowledged conducting strikes inside Syria on several occasions since the start of the civil war in 2011, Reuters reported. Israel views Iran’s presence in Syria, which neighbors Israel to the northeast, as a strategic threat.