February 21, 2024 | Flash Brief

At Least Two Reported Killed in Alleged Israeli Airstrike in Damascus

February 21, 2024 | Flash Brief

At Least Two Reported Killed in Alleged Israeli Airstrike in Damascus

Latest Developments

An alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus killed two people, Syrian state-run media reported on February 21. The reports claim that Israeli planes launched several missiles that hit the fourth floor of a 10-story residential building in Damascus’s Kafr Sousseh neighborhood, entering Syria from the Golan Heights. Later, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an organization aligned with the Syrian opposition, reported that a third person was killed in the area by shrapnel. SOHR noted that the building was located near an Iranian school and that leaders from Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) frequent the area. The strike occurred in the same neighborhood as a February 2023 strike targeting an Iranian military site that killed five people.

Expert Analysis

“Israel has made clear for a decade that it will tolerate neither Iranian entrenchment in Syria nor Iranian use of Syria as a conduit for delivering advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. With upwards of 150,000 mortars and rockets in its arsenal, Hezbollah already has the ability to inflict grave harm on Israeli civilians and infrastructure. Yet if the group were to acquire a sufficient number of precision-guided munitions or similar advanced weapons, it could cause far greater damage.” David Adesnik, FDD Senior Fellow and Director of Research

“The recent reports of an airstrike on Syria are a reminder that the country is a site of Iranian entrenchment in the region. Iran has sought to embed itself in Syria to use the country as a springboard for attacks on Israel and U.S. forces as well as to move weapons to Hezbollah and other Iran-backed terrorist groups. Iran’s use of Syria and its support of proxy groups in the country continue to destabilize the region and present a clear danger to neighboring countries and U.S. forces active in the operation against ISIS. It is essential that Iranian entrenchment in Syria be confronted and that groups linked to Iran stop using Syria as a country to spread terror around the region.” Seth J. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Campaign Between Wars

For years, Israel has been striking Iranian assets in Syria as part of a shadow operation known as the “campaign between wars.” Israel rarely takes responsibility for individual strikes, although it acknowledges a sustained effort to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the transport of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. On February 3, the Israel Defense Forces revealed that it had conducted more than 50 strikes in Syria since October 7 on targets linked to Hezbollah.

Strikes on IRGC in Syria

An alleged Israeli airstrike in Damascus on February 2 killed an advisor in the IRGC. A series of strikes over the last two months has resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen IRGC personnel. On January 20, an airstrike on an IRGC building in Damascus killed five officers — including the IRGC’s Syria intelligence chief. On December 29, a strike on Damascus International Airport killed 11 IRGC members as they awaited the arrival of a senior delegation. Another strike in Damascus on December 25 killed Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior advisor in the IRGC and the official responsible for coordinating between Iran and Syria. 

Israeli Airstrike Reportedly Targets Iranian Assets in Damascus,” FDD Flash Brief

Iran Evacuates IRGC Officers From Syria,” FDD Flash Brief

Iranian Military Advisor Killed in Israeli Strike in Syria,” FDD Flash Brief

The Quiet War Between Israel and Iran,” by Jonathan Schanzer


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