Israel reportedly attacked an Iranian military base in the area of al-Kiswah in the early hours of Saturday morning.
According to reports in the Syrian media, the IDF launched surface-to-surface rockets from the Golan Heights and the Israel Air Force (IAF) fired missiles at the military base, which is located 15 km southwest of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the strike. The BBC reported alleged Iranian activity at the site a month ago, when it published satellite pictures of construction work undertaken from January-October 2017, including 20 structures suitable for barracks and storage. The BBC report, which quoted “Western intelligence officials,” was seen as a warning to the Iranians against setting up the base. It is believed the military site is not yet manned. Saturday’s strike is the second time in three months that Israel has allegedly hit Iranian military assets inside Syria. The IAF is thought to have attacked a missiles production facility on September 7.
Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Chief of Staff Lt Gen. Gadi Eisenkot have repeatedly warned against Iranian entrenchment in southern Syria. Last month, Eisenkot told a Saudi website, “We will not accept the Iranians entrenching themselves in Syria. We warned them against building factories or military bases there, and we will not permit that.” Writing in Haaretz, Amos Harel said, “It seems the bombardment attributed to Israel seeks to send the message that it means what it says with its public threats, and that Iran’s continued inroads into Syria will encounter Israel’s active military opposition.” Security analyst Yossi Melman in Maariv wrote, “[Syrian President Bashar] Assad can’t afford to retaliate for Israel’s violation of Syrian sovereignty beyond firing ineffectively with his air defense system, because that would provoke even harsher Israeli retaliation.” In August, outgoing IAF chief Amir Eshel said that Israel had carried out more than 100 airstrikes in Syria against weapons convoys or depots thought to be supplying Hezbollah with advanced weaponry.