Israel struck a Hezbollah arms cache at the Mazzeh Air Base near Damascus on Thursday, Syrian and Lebanese media reported.
Pictures showed a big explosion, suggesting either weapons or fuel exploded. Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio, Intelligence Minister, Yisrael Katz, vaguely confirmed the strike was in line with Israeli policy to prevent “Iran’s smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah.” Katz made a similar statement to Reuters.
Since April 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is outspoken on Israel’s policy to disrupt Iranian weapon supplied to Hezbollah in Syria.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had warned from Moscow that Israel would not allow Hezbollah to amass forces near the Golan Heights. The Defense Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday which expressed concern for Iranian “arms smuggling” through Syria.
On Thursday, Lebanon’s Hezbollah-linked al-Manar television confirmed a hit on warehouses and fuel tanks near Damascus.
The Hezbollah Shi’ite militia is a key ally to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. According to The Times of Israel, the airport near Damascus has been targeted as a primary conduit of volunteer Shi’ite fighters from Iraq and Iran, as well as a hub for arms supplies.
Although Israel has mostly kept off the Syrian conflict, Tel Aviv has a long history of conflict with Hezbollah along the Golan Heights, that is, the Syrian territory occupied by Israel.
Israeli analysts suggest that Hezbollah has a stockpile of over 100,000 rockets on Syrian soil.