Damascus Rocked by Israeli Attack on Heels of Saudi-iran Rapprochement
More Israeli airstrikes rocked Damascus early Thursday morning, wounding two Syrian soldiers, according to national SANA news agency and international reports.
State sources say Syrian air defenses were “confronting hostile targets” over the capital at around 1:20am, during the aerial attack which came from the direction of the Golan Heights. This marks the fourth major Israeli attack on Syria this month, which included two prior air assaults which temporarily shut down Aleppo International Airport.
“At around 01:20 am (10:20 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights targeting several positions in the vicinity of Damascus,” Syria’s defense ministry said later, also noting material damage.
After a short lull following a pattern of several years that included hundreds of Israeli attacks on Syria, there’s been an uptick and return to more frequent attacks so far this year.
“A group monitoring the Syrian civil war said the Israeli missile strikes last week destroyed a suspected arms depot used by Iran-backed fighters at Aleppo airport,” Al Jazeera observes. “On March 7, three people were killed in the Israeli air strike on the airport that also halted flights for three days.”
Israeli officials have long claimed to be targeting Iranian military assets such as weapons shipments, but civilians and city infrastructure have long been targeted. “Along with airports, Israeli warplanes have also aimed at other critical infrastructure, including Syrian seaports,” AJ notes further.
One likely explanation for Israel’s ramped up aggression in Syria is the Saudi-Iran deal to reestablish and normalize diplomatic ties announced this month. Israel has long relied on robust US-Gulf (and GCC) efforts to counter Iran. Couple with this is that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is being welcomed in Gulf capitals such as the UAE and Oman.
US state-backed VOA has observed the post-earthquake diplomacy is part of “renewed efforts to bring Damascus back into the Arab fold.” This scares Israel, which wants to see Syria perpetually isolated amid fears in Tel Aviv of deepened Iranian entrenchment in the region.