Activistst posted pictures on which huge fires were to be seen near Damascus (Reuters)
Israel struck an arms supply hub operated by the Lebanese group Hezbollah near
Damascus airport on Thursday, targeting weapons sent from Iran via
commercial and military cargo planes, Syrian rebel and regional intelligence sources said.Video
carried on Arab TV and shared on social media showed the pre-dawn
airstrikes caused a fire around the airport east of the Syrian capital,
suggesting fuel sources or weapons containing explosives were hit.
state media said Israeli missiles hit a military position southwest of
the airport.Two senior rebel sources in the Damascus area,
citing monitors in the eastern outskirts of the capital, said five
strikes hit an ammunition depot used by Iran-backed militias.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, speaking from the United States
where he has been meeting US officials, told Israeli Army Radio: "I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's
policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria
to Hezbollah ... Naturally, I don't want to elaborate on this.
"The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicates an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act." Katz added.
Speaking to Reuters in Washington, Minister Katz said he was seeking an
understanding with the Trump administration that Iran not be allowed to
establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.
Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, where he was
attending a security conference, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor
Lieberman reiterated that Israel "will not allow Iranian and Hezbollah
forces to be amassed on the Golan Heights border". Lieberman met with the Russian minister of Defrense en his colleague for Foreign Affairs, Lavrov. An Israeli Defence Ministry statement said Lieberman had
expressed concern to Russian ministers over "Iranian activity in Syria
and the Iranian use of Syrian soil as a base for arms smuggling to
Hezbollah in Lebanon".
In May 2013 Israel struck three areas in Damascus suburbs,
allegedly to destroy Iranian rockets being delivered to Hezbollah.
Damascus airport was also hit by Israel in May 2013.
The Syrian army said on January 13, 2016 that Israel had
targeted the Mezze military airbase. Mezze airbase is just a few
kilometers from the presidential palace.
Israel has in the past targeted Hezbollah positions inside Syria where Iranian backed groups are heavily involved in the fighting.
officials estimate that Iran commands about 25,000 fighters in Syria,
including members of its own Revolutionary Guard, Shi'ite militants from
Iraq and recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
has also said that Hezbollah has built up an arsenal of more than
100,000 rockets, many of which would be capable of striking anywhere
within Israeli territory.