Israel has conducted missile strikes in the early of hours of Friday morning on the city of Sayyeda Zainab in the southeastern countryside of Damascus. Three soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in an initial official Syrian military report.
In a statement carried by Syrian Arab News Agengy (SANA), a Syrian military spokesman disclosed that:
“At exactly 12:32 a.m. this morning, the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack with bursts of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus. Our air defence media confronted the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them.”
Israel’s strikes against Syrian military targets and civilian infrastructure have increased in frequency in recent months, and while having no legal basis under international law, are stated to be in aid of limiting Iran’s military strength and capabilities in the country.
These latest attacks also occur just 3 days after the Trilateral summit in Tehran, between Russia’s President Putin, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, during which the three nations condemned Israel’s strikes on Syrian territory, along with the US’ continued theft of resources from Syria’s north.
With both Iran and Russia maintaining a military presence in Syria by way of invitation from the elected government, these latest strikes could be interpreted as a warning shot against the deepening of ties between Iran and Russia, a relationship which has also recently witnessed greater reinforcement through new trade deals following the West’s sanctions on Russia.
The move could also be a test of the strength of the relationship between the Syrian government and the Kremlin. 12 years-ago Syria purchased Soviet era S-300 air defence systems from Russia, but delivery was delayed at request of Israel, Turkey and other NATO member states, leaving Syria with outdated defences and vulnerable to Israeli attacks.
In 2018 the S-300 systems were finally delivered, after the attempted shooting down of an Israeli jet with outdated missiles, caused a Russian military aircraft that the Israeli jets were using as a shield to be destroyed, killing all 15 Russian servicemen onboard. Sources are, however, confirming that Russia is still prohibiting the Syrian Arab Army from using these systems, which may be a source of strain between the two nations, in a time of increased necessity.