Nine of 16 deaths reported were foreign militants, likely Iranian; Syria claims IDF strikes came from Lebanese airspace; Possible spillover reported in Cyprus at site of Syrian missile which caused a fire; Satellite imagery show all 4 of Syria’s Russian-made S-300 systems erected and operational.
Israel carried out airstrikes in Syria overnight in Homs and outside of Damascus with reports claiming as many as 16 deaths, nine of which were “foreign militants,” most likely Iranian or Hezbollah forces. Several civilian deaths were reported from Syria, which also claimed an infant in the town of Sahnaya outside of the nation’s capital was killed in the strikes.
Strikes were reported on several sites, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) claiming multiple Israeli jets fired missiles from Lebanese airspace shortly after midnight on Monday. Mixed media reports claim as many as 20 were injured either from the Israel Air Force strikes or the Syrian air defense systems. A research center and Hezbollah base are believed to have been hit in the airstrikes.
The Syrian army confirmed on Monday morning, “Our air defenses intercepted hostile missiles fired by Israeli warplanes from the Lebanese airspace towards some of our military positions in Homs and the surroundings of Damascus.” It claimed it was able to down several Israel Air Force missiles.
One of the Syrian anti-aircraft missiles may have landed and caused a fire in Vouno, Cyprus. An initial investigation proved the missile was Russian-made, leading security forces to believe the missile came from Syria. The site is less than 200 miles from Homs and around 12 miles from Nicosia.
As with the majority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) covert operations in Lebanon and Syria, it refused to comment on reports. The IDF has been clear that any attacks or threats to its sovereignty are red lines. Many of Israel’s strikes in Syria have targeted attempted arms and missile transfers to Hezbollah, as well as Iranian weapons storage facilities.
Also on Monday, satellite imagery from Israel’s ImageSat International show that all four Russian-made S-300 missile defense systems in Syria have been erected and are operational. The satellite images show the progress from footage released last month of three of the four systems deployed and functional on the Masyaf base. At the time, the advanced surface-to-air missile systems were reportedly covered with camouflage nets to conceal its progress and deployment.
The S-300 poses a major threat to Israel’s covert operations and defense needs in Syria combatting Iran. The S-300 is capable of tracking fighter jets and missiles up to 300 kilometers (186 miles). The system has advanced radars and detection technologies with the capability of engaging six targets simultaneously, as well as launching up to 12 missiles.