Israeli planes on February 7 targeted an Iranian base adjacent to a scientific research centre that developed and stored just west of the Syrian capital Damascus .
Jamraya was established during the 1980s and is believed to be one of the most important research centres in the country, with weapons developed and stored there. An Iranian base has also been established in its vicinity, with several buildings that likely house soldiers and military vehicles.
The Syrian army said it had destroyed most of the Israeli missiles fired at its position, but did not provide further details or damage assessments.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the missiles targeted “positions of the Syrian army and its allies” in the region of Jamraya research facility, which was also hit in December.
Iran’s IRNA news agency confirmed the Israeli attack after it quoted the General Command of the Syrian Army, which said in a statement that “warplanes of the Israeli enemy at 3:42 a.m on Wednesday fired several missiles from inside Lebanese airspace at one of our military positions in the Damascus countryside. The air defence system intercepted the missiles and destroyed most of them.
The area – also known as Dummar – is home to several military facilities but also a branch of the Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC). A Western intelligence agency told the BBC last year that three branches of the SSRC, including the one at Jamraya, were being used to produce chemical munitions in violation of a deal that saw Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad agree to destroy his chemical arsenal after a 2013 deadly Sarin attack against civilians in Damascus.
On January 9, Syria’s military accused Israel of launching missiles at military outposts in the vicinity of Qutayfeh, near Damascus. The Israeli air force said it has air sorties against more than 100 Syrian arms convoys and vehicles belonging to Lebanon’s Shiite militia Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside Assad’s forces, since the Syrian Civil War began more than six years ago.
Israel regards the Iran-backed Hezbollah as the biggest threat it faces on its borders. Tel Aviv has grown deeply alarmed by the expanding clout of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) since during the conflict began and has warned it would act against any perceived threat from Tehran.
The Israeli Defence Ministry rarely comments on media reports of its military activities, but has publicly admitted to having struck Hezbollah convoys and other targets in Syria with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that strikes will continue when “we have information and operational feasibility.”
On February 8, more than 100 pro-Assad fighters were killed when US-backed coalition forces repelled an attack in eastern Syria.
The heavy death toll underscored the size of the offensive, which US officials said included about 500 ground troops, artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, and mortars.
Neither Washington nor the Western-backed coalition have offered details on the identity of the attacking forces. Assad’s army is heavily supported by Iranian-backed militias, Hezbollah, the IRGC, and the Russian Armed Forces.