On August 24, Aug. 24, 2019 the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out an airstrike over the southwestern region of Syria. This attack resulted in the destruction of an alleged Hezbollah compound that was located in the Aqraba region of the Damascus Governorate.
According to a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) source, at least five Hezbollah military personnel were killed as a result of this Israeli attack.
While Israel managed to hit one of its main targets, a Russian publication reported that the Israeli Air Force was forced out of Syrian airspace as it was preparing for a second wave of strikes.
According to the Russian publication Tsargrad.TV, a Russian Su-35 jet took off from the Hmeimim Airbase and made their way towards the Mediterranean as the Israeli Air Force was preparing a second attack.
As a result of this move by the Russian Air Force, the Israeli Air Force was unable to complete their second round of strikes, the Russian aviation website Avia.Pro added.
It is worth noting that one day before these strikes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since this attack on Saturday evening, tensions between Israel and Iran have been at a month-long-high, as Lebanon’s Hezbollah has vowed to avenge their losses from the Israeli strikes.
On August 24, Israeli warplanes bombed what the Israeli military described as ‘Iranian targets’ near the town of Aqraba south of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The Syrian air-defense forces intercepted several hostile missiles. However, the rest of them hit the target.
According to claims by the Israeli side, the targeted positions were used by the Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated units to prepare an attack on Israel with several armed drones.
The Israeli military also released a satellite image of the positions its warplanes struck claiming that the image shows Qods Force Operatives’ building and a weapons warehouse.
IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaee denied that any Iranian position was hit. However, Lebanese sources reported that two Hezbolalh members were killed by the airstrikes.
They were identified as Hassan Yusuf al-Zabib from the town of Nmairiyeh in southern Lebanon and Yasser Ahmad Dahir from the town of Blida in the same region. Hassan Yusuf al-Zabib is reportedly the son of Yusuf al-Zabib, a key administrator in the Hezbollah-affiliated news channel al-Manar.
Early on August 25, an explosion rocked Beirut’s Southern Suburb, known as the stronghold of Hezbollah. According to initial reports, two Israeli drones crashed in the area. Later, Hezbollah clarified that the drones were rigged with explosives and attacked the group’s media center.
“The first drone fell without causing damage while the second one was laden with explosives and exploded causing huge damage to the media center,” Mohamed Afif, the group’s spokesman said adding that the inactive drone is in the Hezbollah hands now.
Later on the same day, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah made an official statement on the situation vowing to shoot down Israeli drones flying over Lebanon. Nasrallah also promised that Hezbollah will respond to recent Israeli airstrikes on Damascus, which killed two fighters of the Lebanese group.
These developments were followed by a mysterious airstrike on a convoy of the Iraqi Armed Forces’ Popular Mobilization Units (the part of the military often describe as Iranian proxies by US-Israeli media) near the Syrian border. The strike destroyed at least 3 vehicles and reportedly killed a PMU officer.
The recent increase of Israel military actions across the region accidentally came ahead of the election into Israel’s Knesset in September 2019. It seems that once again the current Israeli leadership is escalating the situation in the region to secure a local political victory.