ARCHIVE – An Israeli F-15I fighter jet during an airshow at Hatzerim Air Force base in Beersheba on 27 December 2012. (Photo Credit: Flash90)
Shortly before midnight on 19 December, the Israeli army fired a burst of missiles from over northern Palestine towards Damascus, which resulted in material damage and injuries to Syrian Arab Army (SAA) personnel.
According to state-media news outlet SANA, the Israeli air force launched an unspecified number of missiles at 11:30 pm, from the northeastern direction of Lake Tiberias, towards targets in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport and the southwestern countryside.
Several missiles were shot down by Syria’s aging air defense (AD) systems, but the attack was successful in meeting the majority of its objectives.
The Syrian Ministry of Defense announced the injury of two soldiers along with material damage. No further information was provided. However, satellite footage will most likely reveal additional details in the coming days.
The Israeli army killed 47 SAA soldiers in 2022 alone, including 34 from the AD units.
Per its modus operandi, the Israeli army targets the AD units to suppress their defensive fire, so as to ensure successful attacks.
The strikes focus on suspected ammunition depots shared with Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, and locations operated by Iranian forces for Research & Development or manufacturing of precision-guided munitions (PGM).
Additionally, however, several attacks aimed to undermine the SAA’s efforts to restock its depots and rebuild what was damaged throughout the decade-long war.
Breaking News: Israeli airstrikes south of Damascus pic.twitter.com/vNaQMEpZyl
— The Cradle (@TheCradleMedia) December 19, 2022
The attack coincided with the suspicious absence of Israel’s 122 Squadron from open-source flight trackers for two consecutive days.
The Nahshon Squadron, based at Nevatim airbase in Israel, is tasked with signal intelligence gathering – an instrumental part of any attack.
Earlier on 14 December, and then on the 18th, Iranian cargo planes affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) landed in Damascus and Aleppo, respectively.
Israel suspects that Iran is smuggling advanced weapons to Lebanon in these planes, and launches attacks usually within 24-72 hours of such flights.
عمليات الاستطلاع المعادية تزامنت مع وصول وعودة طائرة شحن ونقل إيرانية من طراز إليوشن-76، في ساعات مساء اليوم حوالي الساعة 19:00 بتوقيت دمشق كانت طائرة الإليوشن-76 الإيرانية في طريق العودة من دمشق إلى طهران.
— SAM 🇸🇾 (@SAMSyria0) December 14, 2022
Also on 14 December, the outgoing Israeli army Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi boasted of a recent Israeli airstrike on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The attack, hundreds of kilometers away from Israel’s nearest air bases, targeted a convoy of fuel trucks carrying petroleum products to Lebanon.
Kochavi spoke of Israel’s upper hand in intelligence gathering, which identified the exact truck – between dozens of others – that was carrying weapons.
“We could not have known that it was heading from Iraq to Syria, we could not have known what’s in it, and we could not have known that out of the 25 trucks, truck number eight was the one carrying weapons,” he said at a conference at Reichman University.
“We needed to send pilots to the right place and they had to evade surface-to-air missiles fired at them,” added Kochavi.
Despite these efforts, Kochavi acknowledged that some weapons were successful in reaching Lebanon, and Hezbollah is in possession of dozens of PGMs.
Regardless, he celebrated his apparent success in preventing the creation of a “Hezbollah 2” in Syria, which would have added an additional front against Israel in the upcoming “First Northern War.”