Syrian air defenses foiled Israeli missile attack on research center and military base in northern Aleppo province, media reported on the fifth such strike in two weeks against suspected Iranian targets .
The Syrian military said in a statement that Israel had struck a military barracks at al Safirah in the eastern countryside of Aleppo. Earlier, state television said that a research center had been targeted. The military said it is now assessing the damage caused by the strikes.
A regional intelligence source said that Israel was intensifying its raids in Syria at a time when the attention of the world and the region, including Syria, were distracted by the coronavirus pandemic.
An Israeli army spokesperson declined to comment on the report.
Western intelligence sources say Iranian-backed militias have long been established in Aleppo province where they have bases and a command center and have installed advanced weapons, part of a growing presence throughout government-controlled Syria.
The Center for Scientific Studies and Research is one of several facilities where Western intelligence and opposition sources suspect Syria with the help of Iranian researchers of developing chemical weapons that they accuse Syria of having used against civilians in rebel-controlled areas.
Damascus and its ally Moscow deny having used chemical weapons that killed hundreds of civilians during the nine-year conflict and blame the jihadist rebels for such attacks.
Israel previously struck several military research facilities that were allegedly a center for chemical and biological weapons.
Israeli helicopters fired several rockets from Israeli-occupied Golan Heights at targets inside southern Syriaknown to serve as a base for Lebanese Hezbollah militia, Syrian and intelligence sources said.
The Syrian government does not say that Iranian bases are targeted when it announces details of the Israeli raids.
On the same day, major explosions at an ammunition depot near the city of Homs were allegedly due to an Israeli strike, a war observer and intelligence sources said.
Israel has acknowledged in recent years that it has carried out numerous raids in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 where it sees the presence of Iran as a strategic threat.
Regional intelligence sources say the intensified Israeli strikes on Syria are part of a Washington-sanctioned underground war and part of anti-Iranian policy that has undermined vast military power in the past two years of Iran without triggering a major escalation.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett told Israeli media last week that Israel would intensify its campaign against Iran in Syria.
Meanwhile, a regional intelligence source said Israeli planes hit Iranian-backed militias entrenched in the border town of Albukamal, near the border with Iraq, where Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups have a strong hold.
The U.S. military struck Iran-backed militias in areas in Iraq and Syria in the border area last January in what U.S. officials later said was a response to escalating provocations by the Iranian military. ‘Iran.
Iran’s support alongside Russia helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against a military opposition that had seized vast tracts of territory and sought to overthrow its authoritarian regime.