In 200 days | Israeli attack Syrian territory on 14 occasions, destroying over 40 targets and killing nearly 100 people
Israel continues infringing upon Syria’s sovereignty, citing the large military presence of Iranian forces and their proxy militias as an excuse, as Israel has noticeably escalated its strikes on Syria since early 2018, and targeted Syrian territory on 14 occasions since early 2021.
In this report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) presents detailed information of all the Israeli strikes on Syria in 2021.
Targeted areas, fatalities, and material damage
SOHR documented 14 aerial and rocket attacks in 2021, during which Israel targeted several positions in Syria, destroying nearly 41 targets, including buildings, warehouses, headquarters, centres and vehicles. These strikes killed 104 people and they were as follows:
- Five civilians, they were a man, his wife and their two children and another man.
- 38 regime soldiers and Syrian militiamen loyal to Iran and the Syrian regime.
- 22 Iraqi militiamen.
- 17 militiamen of the Afghani “Liwa Fatemiyoun”.
- Five militiamen of the Pakistani “Liwa Zainebiyoun”.
- 17 pro-Iran non-Syrian militiamen.
These attacks were also categorised according to the targeted provinces as follows:
- Damascus and Rif Dimashq: seven strikes
- Al-Quneitra: three strike
- Hama: two strikes
- Deir Ezzor: one strike
- Al-Suwaidaa: one strike
- Latakia: one strike
- Homs: one strike
- Aleppo: one strike
(1) Israel initiated its 2021 attacks On January 6, when it targeted the radar system battalion in the west of Al-Dour village in Al-Suwaidaa countryside, “Najran” battalion in the north-west of Al-Suwaidaa at the administrative border with Daraa governorate, and the surrounding areas of the 1st Division in al-Keswa area and other sites on Damascus-Daraa highway. It is worth noting that the targeted areas were hosting militias loyal to Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah, as well as regime forces and loyalists. The attack left three people dead, two of them in al-Kiswa area and the other in the radar system battalion in Al-Suwaidaa, while more than 11 people were injured, some seriously. A radar system was also destroyed in the west of Al-Suwaidaa, as well as the destruction of weapons depots, south of the capital, Damascus.
(2) The second attack took place on January 16, and it left the largest death toll ever, as 57 people were killed after positions, weapons and ammunition warehouses and missiles depots affiliated to regime forces, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Iranian forces and their proxies came under attack in the area between Deir Ezzor city to Al-Bokamal desert on the Syria-Iraq border.
- In Deir Ezzor city, 26 persons were killed in ten strikes by Israeli fighter jets on Ayyash warehouses, Sa’ka camp, the 137th Brigade, the mountain overlooking Deir Ezzor city and other positions on the outskirts of the city, and they were as follows: ten regime soldiers, four members of the “military security” and 12 Iranian-backed militiamen. However, it is not known yet if the fatalities have included members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Lebanese Hezbollah or not. The Israeli strikes on Deir Ezzor city have destroyed weapons and missiles warehouses and headquarters.
- While in Al-Bokamal, 16 Iranian-backed Iraqi militiamen were killed in six Israeli airstrikes on positions, weapons warehouses and ammunition depots in the area of “Al-Hezam”, Al-Jam’iyat neighbourhood and other positions in Al-Bokamal desert. This attack destroyed centres and vehicles.
- In Al-Mayadeen, however, 15 Iranian-backed non-Syrian militiamen, including 11 Afghani members of “Fatemiyoun Brigade”, were killed in Israeli strikes on positions and weapons warehouses in Al-Mazari’ area in Al-Mayadeen desert in the eastern countryside of Dear Ezzor. The attack also destroyed weapons warehouses and headquarters.
(3) The third attack was on January 22 when Israeli fighter jets flying over Lebanon struck at least five positions of Iranian-backed militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah nearby Hama city and the Syria’s middle sector. The airstrikes destroyed all these positions. On the other hand, shrapnel of missiles fired by regime air-defences in an attempt to intercept the Israeli airstrikes hit the residential neighbourhood of Kazu in the north-western part of Hama city, which killed a family of four, a woman, her husband and two children, and seriously injured an old man, a woman and two other children.
(4) On February 3, Israeli bombardment targeted several military positions, including farms where militias affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah and the “Syrian Resistance for the Liberation of the Golan” were located. Meanwhile, explosions hit military posts of the regime’s Brigade-90 Tanks, where Iranian-backed militias were located, in Al-Habbariyah area in Al-Quneitra near the administrative border with Daraa, amid reports of destruction of these posts.
(5) While on February 15, Israeli rockets hit headquarters of the 4th Division in the mountains surrounding Damascus-Beirut highway, known as “Beirut old highway”, where weapons and missiles’ depots belonging to the Iranians and loyal militias were located. The Israeli attack destroyed depots of sophisticated missile which Iran had recently transferred to the headquarters of the 4th Division. The Syrian regime’s First Division and its surrounding area in Al-Kiswa as well as other locations west and south-west of Damascus also came under attack. This attack left nine pro-Iranian militiamen dead in the airstrikes on Al-Kiswa area, while seven others were killed in the attacks on the Iranians’ missiles depots in the headquarters of the 4th Division in the mountains around Damascus-Beirut highway. It is worth noting that all fatalities were not of Syrian or Arab nationalities.
(6) The sixth attack targeted positions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Lebanese Hezbollah, on February 28, in the south of the capital, Damascus, while the targeted positions were cordoned of and no one was allowed to approaching without commanders’ permissions.
On March 12, SOHR obtained new details about the this attack Israeli strikes on the south of Syria’s capital, Damascus, on February 28. According to very reliable SOHR sources, the attack’s objective was to kill three commanders of Al-Quds Corps, whose nationalities remained unknown if they were Iranians or Syrians, while unconfirmed reports suggested that one of the three commanders was affiliated to the Lebanese Hezbollah. However, the commanders had evacuated their house in Sayeda Zeinab area in the south of Damascus, just a few hours before the Israeli attack. Accordingly, the Israeli attack’s objective has not been achieved. It is worth noting that the commanders of these militias periodically change the place of residence and the places where weapons and ammunition are stored for fear of repeated attacks.
(7) The seventh attack occurred on March 16 when Israel airstrikes targeted two weapons warehouses of Iranian forces in regime military positions, a few kilometres away from Damascus international airport. It is worth noting that the explosions in the first warehouse were more violent. However, it is not known if ammunition stored earlier also exploded or not.
(8) The eighth Israeli attack on Syria was yesterday, April 8, as Israeli missiles managed to destroyed a weapons and ammunition warehouse believed to be used by militias affiliated to the Lebanese Hezbollah in a military post near Al-Demas area. This attack also left three militiamen dead, but it is not known if they were Lebanese or foreigners affiliated to Iranian-backed militias.
(9) On April 22, Israeli missiles hit the regime Air-Defence’s base in al-Dumayr area, which destroyed air-defence batteries, killed a lieutenant and injured three other regime soldiers seriously. It is worth noting that al-Dumayr area hosts headquarters and warehouses belonging to the Iranian-backed militias.
(10) The tenth attack was on May 5, when Israeli airstrikes hit military positions of regime forces and Iranian-backed militias in both countryside of Hama and Latakia as follows:
In Hama, the airstrikes hit weapons and ammunition warehouses in mountains and forests in the area of Deir Shmail in the western countryside of Hama near the administrative border with Latakia.
In Latakia, several airstrikes hit military headquarters, weapons and ammunition warehouses in the south of al-Haffa. Also, in Suq al-Jumaa, an area contains old villas in southern Latakia, several explosions were heard, but it is was not known if they were caused by Israeli airstrikes or shrapnel of the missiles of the regime’s air-defences, as regime’s air-defence batteries were located near Suq al-Jumaa..
On the other hand, one civilian was killed and over five others, including a woman and three children, were injured as well as the destruction of a plastic factory belonging to a civilian in Ras Shamra and Ras al-Ain in Latakia countryside.
These attacks also left eight members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its proxy militias dead, and the fatalities were distributed as follows:
- Five members of IRGC of Iranian and Afghan nationalities were killed as a result of the Israeli airstrike on their headquarters in Deir Shmail in the western countryside of Hama near the administrative borders with Latakia
- Three IRGC-backed militiamen, one of whom was Syrian while the two others were of non-Syrian nationalities, were killed by the Israeli strikes on the countryside of Latakia.
Moreover, nine people were injured.
(11) Similarly, an Israeli helicopter flying over the Syrian Golan struck, with two missiles, a regime military post on May 6. The targeted post, which is located nearby Jbata al-Khashab town in the north of al-Quneitra, near the occupied Syrian Golan, hosts members of the reconnaissance and monitoring brigades of the Lebanese Hezbollah. The strike left three members who were stationed in the military post injured. Meanwhile, another military post nearby Tel al-Sha’ar came under attack, leaving several members injured. However, it is not known if the injured members were of regime forces or the reconnaissance and monitoring brigades of Hezbollah.
(12) Israeli helicopter struck, on May 10, a place where a person working for the Lebanese Hezbollah was in, near Ein al-Tineh in the west of Hadar in the Syrian Golan. The man was taken to the hospital in al-Quneitra after he was seriously wounded. According to SOHR sources, the targeted person was from the occupied town of Majdal Shams, and resided in the town of Hadar. It is worth noting that the targeted man’s father had detained in the Israeli prisons, and his two brothers were killed in previous battles against the opposition factions in the northern countryside of al-Quneitra.
(13) SOHR reported Israeli attacks on June 9 on military positions in Homs and Damascus as follows:
In Homs, Israeli strikes hit the scientific research centre and other military posts and positions of the National Defence Forces and Air-Force Defence in the vicinity of Kharbat al-Tinah in west-western Homs. The strikes also targeted an ammunition warehouse belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah, south of Homs city. These strikes left 11 Syrian regime soldiers and militiamen of the National Defense Forces, including a brigadier general, dead.
While in Damascus, SOHR activists reported hearing explosions in the perimeter of Damascus international airport and the Air-Defense Battalion in the Al-Dumayr area, caused by Israeli attacks on weapons warrhouses.
(14) The latest Israeli attack on Syria was on July 19, when Russian fighter jets executed several strikes on positions of Iranian-backed militias in al-Waha area in al-Sferah in the south-eastern countryside of Aleppo. The airstrikes destroyed Iranian position and military base and killed five Iranian-backed militiamen, they were two Syrians and three non-Syrians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is used to hearing the Syrian regime’s empty mantra that it always reserves the right to respond to the Israeli attacks. However, regime forces do not hesitate when it comes to shelling opposition positions or bombarding residential and civilian areas inside Syria. The Iranians also dare not launch a large-scale military operation against Israel, as they know full well that they will be facing the might of Israel’s military, so the Iranians seem satisfied with letting its proxies do its bidding by firing only a few rockets from time to time on the occupied Syrian Golan, using the Iranian and Hezbollah-backed movement “Syrian Resistance to Liberate Golan”.
At a time when the Syrian regime “intercepts and downs” Israeli missiles only with a Russian green light, Israel can hit Iranian targets -with the purpose of undermining the Iranian military presence in Syria- and only with Russia’s full consent.
On the other hand, Washington justifies Israel’s stance that “Tel Aviv practices its legal rights to defend its security and interests against the Iranian direct threat”, not to mention the US desire to get Syria free of Iranian forces and militias.