The Syrian government says Israel has launched airstrikes on the country twice in less than twenty-four hours amid a broader pressure campaign against Iran and its allies currently being waged by the United States that has sent regional tensions soaring.
State TV reported anti-air defenses shot down “hostile targets coming from the direction of occupied territories” on Saturday night, a day after Friday night strikes first targeted the First Division HQ of the Syrian Army near al-Kiswe, south of Damascus, according to Reuters.
Authorities in Damascus said Syrian air defenses successfully intercepted multiple projectiles fired from the direction of Israel, though there appears a consensus in emerging international reports that details surrounding the second wave of strikes are vague and remained unconfirmed.
The projectiles came from “occupied territory” and appeared over airspace in southern Syria, official news agency SANA said, in reference to Israel. However, there’s yet to be confirmation from the Israeli side, which usually doesn’t give it even though since at least 2014 it has conducted hundreds of similar attacks.
Some of the details were relayed in a Times of Israel report as follows:
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Israel fired at least three missiles. Two of the strikes targeted a Syrian army brigade which supervises the country’s Quneitra province, he told AFP, while the third missile was destroyed by Syrian defenses.
Both the Friday and Saturday waves of strikes seemed to be brief in duration, suggesting either Hezbollah or Iran related facilities may have been the targets.
Friday’s attack was witnessed across Damascus as massive explosions were heard in the vicinity of the capital and anti-air defenses were filmed in action.
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) May 18, 2019
According to the Times of Israel, Hebrew-language media presented Friday’s Israeli attack as a confrontation with Iranian assets inside Syria.
Notably Saturday’s attack was carried out during the last night of the Eurovision finals song contest hosted in Tel Aviv.
— Asaad Hanna (@AsaadHannaa) May 17, 2019
Israel has faced global criticism after it conducted hundreds of airstrikes over Gaza early this month, in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad launching a record number of their own rockets in a short period.
Some reports have suggested Israel halted its latest Gaza military campaign over fears Eurovision 2019 could have been canceled, damaging Israel’s reputation internationally.
But now with the highly visible international event concluded, Israel could be right back on a war footing in both Syria and Gaza, as this weekend’s strikes near Damascus suggest.