The Syrian military said Israel on Wednesday launched raids on an industrial zone in the northern city of Aleppo, causing damage only to materials, while opposition sources said the strikes hit Iranian ammunitions stores and a military airport used by Tehran’s forces.
“The Israeli aggression targeted some positions in Sheikh Najjar industrial zone and a number of enemy missiles were brought down,” an army statement said.
There was no immediate comment from Israel.
The blasts caused an electrical blackout in Aleppo, the country’s second largest city and a major industrial hub that bore the brunt of years of fighting and heavy Russian and Syrian aerial bombardment on its former rebel-held areas.
Experts say Aleppo is one of the main areas where Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have a strong military presence supporting local militias that have for years been fighting alongside the Syrian army to defeat armed fighters.
Two opposition sources familiar with Tehran’s military presence in the area said large ammunitions depot and a logistics hub that belonged to Iranian-backed militias inside the industrial zone received direct hits.
Other strikes hit the vicinity of Nairab military airport on the outskirts of Aleppo in the second such strike on the installation used by Iranian troops in less than a year, they added.
Iranian-backed Shia militias have expanded their control over mainly Sunni areas around Damascus, southern and eastern Syria that bore the brunt of the heaviest bombardment and led to mass displacement or emigration to neighbouring countries.
Israeli-Iranian proxy war
Iran’s growing influence in Syria, where it has struck economic and trade deals, has raised the prospect of a military confrontation with its arch-enemy Israel.
Earlier this year Israeli military said they had attacked Iranian targets that included munitions stores in Damascus International Airport.
Iran is a major supporter of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war. It has offered military advisers, sent allied militia and material support to help the Syrian government in the civil war, now in its ninth year.
Israel, which considers Iran a national security threat, said it will not tolerate Iranian presence on its borders and expanding influence in Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel had carried out “hundreds” of attacks over the past few years of Syria’s war to curtail Iran and its ally Hezbollah.
With an election approaching, Israel’s government has increased its attacks in Syria and has taken a tougher stance towards Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon.
Last January Israel hit a number of Iranian installations in the country, hours after intercepting a rocket fired from Syrian territory.
In May 2018, Israeli strikes killed 27 pro-government fighters including 11 Iranians in strikes on dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria.
Iran has warned Israel it would respond if it continued attacking targets in Syria and repeatedly said its military presence in Syria is at the invitation of the Assad government and it has no immediate plans to withdraw.
The strike coincided with an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council that was held at Syria’s request over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The decision sparked worldwide condemnation and protests in Syria.