Israeli air raids target Syrian city of Aleppo as regional tensions rise

Syrian defence ministry says the ‘aerial aggression’ came from the Mediterranean and hit a number of places.

Israeli soldiers operate in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria, amid the ongoing war in Gaza, December 28, 2023. [REUTERS/Gil Eliyahu]
Israeli soldiers operate in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria, amid the ongoing war in Gaza [Gil Eliyahu/Reuters]

Israel has targeted Iranian military positions in Syria’s Aleppo with an air raid, causing some material damage, according to the Syrian Ministry of Defence.

“Israel carried out an aerial aggression from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Latakia, targeting a number of points south of the city of Aleppo,” the statement said on Saturday.

The Syrian state media, citing a military source, said “the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack… targeting a number of points south of the city of Aleppo” at about 5:20pm (14:20 GMT) on Saturday.

Pro-government radio station Sham FM said the attacks were near Aleppo’s airport, but did not damage it.

“It seems these attacks in Aleppo were conducted from the sea,” Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem reported from Naqoura in southern Lebanon.

“Warplanes were situated over the Mediterranean when they launched the missiles towards several targets in the city of Aleppo.”

During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air raids on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces including Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

But Israel intensified its attacks since its military operation in Gaza began on October 7, causing tensions across the Middle East.

Hashem said the Aleppo attack was “not unprecedented”.

“On several occasions, there were attacks on Aleppo, on Damascus, and yesterday [Friday] there was an attack on Albu Kamal, an area on the border between Syria and Iraq,” he said.

“It seems this is part of a pattern, because the group that was linked to Albu Kamal was linked to the Iranian IRGC commander who was killed in Damascus just days ago,” he added.

On Monday, an Israeli air raid outside the Syrian capital Damascus killed a senior adviser in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Sayyed Razi Mousavi was responsible for coordinating the military alliance between Syria and Iran.

Tit-for-tat on Israel-Lebanon border

The attack on Aleppo came after another Israeli air raid on a border town in southern Lebanon earlier on Saturday.

The attack followed Iran-backed group Hezbollah claiming responsibility for three attacks on Israeli military bases on the border, Al Jazeera’s Hashem reported.

“There were several Israeli air raids mainly on the town of Bint Jbeil … According to reports, there are no casualties,” he said.

“Another town closer to the border of Israel was also hit by an Israeli attack in a residential area. This raises the risk of civilian casualties on a daily basis,” he said.

Israel and Hezbollah, along with a handful of smaller armed groups that operate in southern Lebanon, have settled into a steady rhythm of tit-for-tat exchanges since the Gaza assault began.

At least 21,672 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed in Gaza in nearly three months of Israeli operation, which has also displaced nearly the strip’s entire 2.3 million population.

The attacks in Syria and Lebanon also come amid fears that Israel’s war in Gaza could expand into a wider regional conflict.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies