Despite claiming neutrality in the ongoing conflict, Israeli warplanes bombed Syrian army weapons supply caches headed for Hezbollah in western Damascus Wednesday, Haaretz reported.
Syrian state media confirmed that Israeli jets fired two missiles from Lebanese airspace and struck Damascus' al-Sabboura region, calling it "an attempt to divert attention from the successes achieved by the Syrian Arab army." The missiles hit a weapons cache belonging to the Syrian army's Fourth Division and an arms convoy traveling on the Beirut-Damascus Highway. The arsenal was heavily damaged, but no human casualties were reported.
Both targets were reportedly supplying weapons to Hezbollah, a powerful, Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitary movement based in Lebanon and headed by influential cleric Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
The group, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and a number of European and Gulf countries, was formed in 1982 in resistance to Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. Hezbollah was crucial to the coalition of Lebanese forces that repelled Israel and its allies from Lebanese territory in 2000 and once again fought with Israel in 2006, resulting in another Israeli withdrawal after both sides sustained hundreds of casualties. The two sides routinely engage in violent border skirmishes.
Hezbollah is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and fights alongside the Syrian army and allies against Western-backed Syrian rebels and the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. While Israel officially claims neutrality in the conflict, it has struck targets belonging to the Syrian government as well as its Lebanese and Iranian allies.
For example, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed last year that Israel was providing aid to Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, a region of southwestern Syria seized during Six Day War in 1967 and annexed in 1981.
The Golan Heights was the venue for the first direct clashes between Israel and ISIS. This past Sunday, the militants reportedly attacked an Israeli reconnaissance unit with a machine gun-mounted vehicle. Israel responded with an airstrike, killing four ISIS militants.