Jerusalem, Undefined | AFP | Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel had at the weekend carried out an air strike on Iranian weapons in Syria, a rare public confirmation of such attacks.
“Just in the last 36 hours the air force attacked Iranian warehouses containing Iranian weapons in the Damascus international airport,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting, according to his office.
“The accumulation of recent attacks shows that we’re more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria, just as we promised.”
Netanyahu added that Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times.
Israel has pledged to prevent its main enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where it is backing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime alongside Russia and Hezbollah.
It rarely publicly confirms such strikes, though outgoing military chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot has spoken of them in interviews in recent days.
Eisenkot told the New York Times that “we struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit”.
Netanyahu is also facing April 9 elections in Israel and has been seeking to burnish his security credentials.
The strike Netanyahu was referring to occurred on Friday night.
Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source saying on Friday night that Syrian air defences had shot down Israeli missiles, but a warehouse had been hit.
Most of the missiles fired by “Israeli military planes” were intercepted at around 11:00 pm (2100 GMT), the source said.
“Only a ministry of transport warehouse at Damascus international airport was hit,” SANA cited the military source as saying.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said “two areas hosting military positions of Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement have been targeted”.
They were near the airport and around the Kisweh area south of Damascus, said the Britain-based Observatory.