Israeli strikes on Iranian interests continue unabated as a major nighttime attack comes on the heels of limited daytime action earlier today.
New details are emerging tonight about the Israeli attacks on Iranian and Syrian targets in Southern Syria. The IDF took responsibility for the new strikes that occurred tonight, announcing that it targeted installations of the Iranian Al-Quds force, better known as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, inside Syria. Additionally, the IDF announced that the popular ski resort on Mount Hermon will not be open on January 21st, and warned the Assad regime to abstain from any retaliatory strikes against Israeli interests. Syrian sources reported that the strike was extensive, among the biggest in recent months, with missiles fired from both land and airborne platforms. Syria further claimed to have intercepted 29 incoming Israeli missiles. Syrian media described the tonight attacks as “massive” with “several waves” of incoming missiles. Russian news resource “Sputnik” reiterated the Syrian claim of having shot down 29 Israeli missiles, but added that many other missiles have reached their targets around Damascus.
Ron Ben Ishai, a senior security analyst for the site Ynet ventured a novel theory for the rare and rather limited strike that the IDF undertook during the daytime hours. During the strike, a passenger jet owned by Iranian Mahan Airlines was the only airplane scheduled to land at the Damascus International Airport. That landing however, never took place, as the airliner was instructed by ground authorities to turn around and return to Tehran. Ben Ishai theorizes that the turning around of the Iranian plane was the purpose of the strike. He further suggest that the IDF warned Russian air traffic control in Syria that the strike, which drew massive anti-aircraft fire, much of it, as is often the case with Russian-made systems, unguided and the Russians in turn, made sure that the Iranian airliner would not attempt a landing. This explanation sounds more feasible when we recall the fate of the Russian IL-20 cargo plane on final approach to Damascus, which was shot down with all souls by errant Syrian anti-aircraft fire that was taking place in response to an ongoing missile strike by Israel. If the analyst is right, this may be a new method for Israel to prevent cargo or people that it prefers to not end up in Syria from reaching it without loss of life and more importantly loss of face for the Russians who vowed not to allow any more shootdowns by Israeli military without consequences.