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March 3, 2024

Apparent Israeli Airstrike Kills Iranian Military Advisors in Syria

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Jan 30, 2024

Israel has seemingly launched another targeted strike against Iranian assets in Syria. An airstrike hit a facility near Damascus International Airport in the early hours of January 29th, killing multiple Iranian military advisors stationed there. This marks the latest clash in the ongoing shadow war between Israel and Iran being fought on Syrian soil.

Strike Targets Sensitive Area South of Damascus

The strike targeted a sensitive area of southern Damascus where groups backed by Iran are known to operate. Explosions were heard near the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine, only a few miles from Damascus International Airport.

While details remain limited, Syrian state media reported that several “foreign advisers” were killed in the attack. Iranian state television named two of those killed as Colonel Mehdi Baniasadi and Captain Akbar Shafee, identifying them as Revolutionary Guard advisors.

Images from the area show damaged buildings and smoke rising into the air:

Damaged buildings after airstrike

Damage from apparent Israeli airstrike near Sayyeda Zeinab shrine south of Damascus on January 29th [Amichai Stein]

Although Israel did not immediately comment, it has repeatedly struck Iranian assets and weapons convoys in Syria over the past years to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence near Israeli territory. Just last week on January 25th, Syria’s air defenses were activated to repel hostile targets over Damascus in what was likely another Israeli raid.

If confirmed, this latest strike demonstrates Israel’s determination to continue hitting high-value Iranian military targets in Syria.

Ongoing Israel-Iran Shadow War in Syria

Israel and Iran have been engaged in an undeclared shadow war on Syrian territory over the past decade. What started as Iran deploying militias and advisors to support the Assad regime during Syria’s civil war has turned into a prolonged struggle, with Israel determined to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Hundreds of airstrikes attributed to Israel have targeted Iranian weapons shipments and military infrastructure since 2013. These strikes have killed Syrian soldiers and Iranian personnel while causing extensive damage:

Year Israeli Strikes Reported
2013 Around 5 strikes
2014 At least 2 strikes
2015 Close to 10 strikes
2016 More than 15 strikes
2017 At least 100 strikes
2018 Around 200 strikes
2019 Over 20 strikes
2020 At least 50 strikes
2021 Over 15 strikes
2022 Around 35 strikes
2023 Over 10 strikes

Table showing number of reported Israeli strikes in Syria by year since 2013 targeting Iranian assets and weapons shipments

While risky, Israel seems committed to a strategy of aggressively targeting any Iranian attempts to arm militias like Hezbollah or construct bases threatening Israel’s security. A former Israeli national security advisor commented that as long as Iran continues trying to turn Syria into a launchpad against Israel, strikes will persist.

Heightened Tensions After Iranian General’s Assassination

Tensions between bitter rivals Iran and Israel have intensified following several high-profile incidents over the past two years.

In November 2022, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officer named Col. Hassan Sayad Khodai was gunned down outside his home in Tehran. While no group claimed responsibility, Iranian officials blamed Israel’s Mossad spy agency. They threatened retaliation against those responsible.

Just weeks later in December 2022, Israeli missile strikes killed several Syrian soldiers and injured dozens more near Damascus and along the coast. Syria claimed one strike targeted Damascus International Airport, damaging infrastructure and forcing a brief closure.

After those raids, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei again threatened Israel – warning them “not try Iran’s patience.”

With neither side backing down, the covert war between Israel and Iran raging in Syria’s shadows seems poised to continue. Both nations appear willing to tolerate the current state of low-intensity conflict marked by occasional flareups. Absent a major escalation or diplomatic breakthrough, such clashes may become the status quo for the foreseeable future.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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