Israeli missiles have damaged military sites near the Syrian capital Damascus early Thursday in the third alleged strike in under a week. On Monday, Israel reportedly conducted a rare daytime airstrike in which sites belonging to the elite Fourth Armoured Division, commanded by Bashar Assad’s brother Maher Assad, were struck.

And Israel has threatened Syria saying it will ramp up airstrikes in the country over its cooperation with Iran in smuggling arms to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to a Thursday report.

Israeli strikes usually take place under the cover of darkness, leading some experts to believe that Israel might be less concerned over the Russian-backed air-defense systems in Syria that Russian forces withdrew from some positions in the country.

Russia has recently shipped a battery of long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles and some 1,200–1,600 troops from Syria to Ukraine, according to reports. Russia’s military leadership in Moscow has also become less involved in day-to-day management of operations in Syria.

The vacuum caused by Russia’s partial withdrawal from Syria could give Israel greater freedom in its operations targeting Iranian terror sites within the country. But Iran’s deepening alliance with Russia, illustrated by the alleged use of Iranian drones in Ukraine, and Israel’s support for Ukraine, could present a challenges to the IDF’s Syria operations longer-term.
 
Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as Jerusalem’s ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.
 
Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya reports that Israel has threatened to ramp up airstrikes in Syria over its cooperation with Iran in smuggling arms to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. Citing unidentified sources, it said Iran has been sending weapons disguised as aid for Syria and Lebanon by air, land and sea.
 
The network said said Maher Assad’s unit “supports Iran in the transfer of strategic weapons and dangerous materials” for Syria and Lebanon. Additionally, the strikes targeted the headquarters of the “Lebanese legion” of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, involved in transferring arms to Lebanon.

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