DEBKAfile, an Israeli military intelligence website, has cited “highly credible” US military sources as saying that the target of the Israeli air strikes on Tuesday night was the positions of the Syrian Arab Army, not Iranian forces or Hezbollah as earlier reported by media.
The air raid is reported to have been carried out in two waves, and lasted 90 minutes, with the first round being conducted by F-16 fighter jets firing Delilah cruise missiles from Lebanese air space into Syria. The second stage was reportedly organised using F-35 stealth fighter jets after the F-16s failed to reach the targets.
It was earlier reported by the Jerusalem Post citing Israeli news agency Nziv.net that the IAF conducted airstrikes on targets in the suburbs of Damascus, having destroyed an arms depot with Iranian weapons. In the meantime, Reuters cited an anonymous Israeli security official as saying that the Israeli jets hit a number of Iranian targets, including an ammunition depot.
The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Tuesday that Israeli military jets had fired missiles from Lebanese airspace, most of which were intercepted before reaching their targets. The hour-and-a-half attack left three Syrian servicemen injured and damaged an ammunition depot, according to the reports.
Following the incident, the IDF tweeted that they had prevented “the establishment of Iranian military capabilities in Syria”:
Over the past year, which is coming to a close, the Israeli Air Force operated in a number of theatres, on a large scale. Our planes have defended and attacked, and Israeli pilots have demonstrated great courage.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) 26 December 2018
Through exceptional cooperation with the IDF Intelligence Directorate, we prevented the establishment of Iranian military capabilities in Syria.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) 26 December 2018
This is not where the story ends; if need be, we will operate with the same determination, the same precision, and with the same professionalism shown by the people of the Air Force, whether on the ground or in the air.— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) 26 December 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier vowed to continue – and maybe even expand – operations in Syria to counter what he called Iran’s increasing military capabilities in the Arab Republic following Washington’s decision to withdraw from the Mideast country.