Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital Sunday, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be on their way to Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.
The attack, the second in three days, signaled a sharp escalation of Israel’s involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war.
In 40 years, since a war with Syria then ruled by Hafez Assad, Israel has been locked in a cold standoff with Damascus. And since 2000, with Bashar al-Assad as Syrian president, Israeli attacks against the country were reported frequently.
The beginning was in July 2001, when Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian military radar in Lebanon, responding to a Hezbollah attack against Israeli bases in the Shebaa Farms, a small uninhabited territory claimed by Lebanon yet occupied by Israel.
But what has been considered as the first overt Israeli military operation in Syria since 1973, was The Ain es Saheb airstrike, which occurred on October 5, 2003. Israel targeted Palestinian militants in the Ain es Saheb training camp, 25 kilometers northwest of the Syrian capital Damascus, in response to the suicide bombing in Haifa 12 hours earlier by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Israel Defense Forces [IDF] claimed the camp was used to train recruits in bomb assembly and guerrilla warfare.
In June, 2006, Israel sent four F-16s over different parts of Syria and Lebanon as a warning to Damascus. According to the Israeli Air Force, the planes flew low for several minutes over Assad’s summer residence in Latakia in northern Syria, after easily getting through the country’s radar defenses. The F-16s broke the sound barrier over Latakia as well as over Beirut. The planes arrived back at base without incident.
Again on September 6, 2007, Israel led Operation Orchard, an Israeli air and commando mission against Syria’s alleged nuclear program. The mission targeted a “Nuclear reactor” near the city of Deir ez-zour according to [IDF].
In November 2011, after a few months before the uprising in Syria started, Israel fired shells into the country after mortars fell on the Israeli part of the Golan Heights, during clashes between the Syrian regime army & the Free Syrian Army. A similar incident happened on March 24, 2013, when Israel destroyed a machine-gun position in the Golan Heights from which shots were fired at Israeli soldiers in a further spillover from Syria’s civil war.
Finally, Jamraya was also attacked by Israeli warplanes earlier this year, on January 30. The target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry, which was allegedly on its way to Hezbollah’s Shiite militia wing in Lebanon.
In all former occasions, and throughout the years, Syrian authorities always had the same statement after every attack “Syria retains the right to respond.”