The Syrian army has claimed that Israel attacked an industrial area in the northern city of Aleppo, causing extensive material damage and leaving seven members of the Iranian armed forces dead.
“The Israeli aggression targeted some positions in the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone and several enemy missiles were shot down,” an army statement said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in response to these reports“We are being credited by foreign media with an air force operation this past night against Iranian forces in Syria,” Katz said. “According to the sources it’s Israel, and according to what the Syrians said and responded it’s Israel. As far as Iran knows it’s Israel.”
Military experts maintain that Aleppo is one of the main areas in which the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has a strong military presence supporting the local militias that for years fought alongside the Syrian army to defeat the insurgents.
Iranian-backed Shiite militias have expanded their control over the mainly Sunni areas around Damascus in southern and eastern Syria, which were most affected by intense Russian and Syrian army bombardment, causing massive displacement and migration to neighboring countries.
Israel, which regards Iran as its greatest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets and allied militias in Syria, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disclosed often that Israel has conducted hundreds of attacks in the final years of Syria’s war to restrict Iran and its ally Hezbollah.
As the Israeli elections approach, the Israeli government has increased its attacks on Syria and taken a tougher stance toward Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon.
Iran has repeatedly threatened to respond to Israeli attacks and said that its military presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Assad government and that it does not intend to withdraw.
The attack coincided with an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council that was held at Syria’s request on U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.