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The Israeli Air Force conducted a second round of missiles strikes on Syria in less than a week.
Late on September 2, Israeli warplanes launched missiles at the T4 airport in the province of Homs. According to Syria’s state media, the strikes were conducted from the direction of the US-controlled zone of al-Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Syrian pro-government sources claimed that a large part of the missiles was intercepted. The impact of the strikes remains unclear.
The T4 airport is well known as the operational base of Iranian-backed forces and as a logistical hub for Iranian supplies moving to Syria. At various times, Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, including combat ones, were also deployed there.
The most recent previous Israeli strike on Syria took place on August 31 targeting the countryside of Damascus city and the province of Daraa. At that time, the Syrian side confirmed that at least 2 people had been killed and 7 others injured. Local sources also claimed that the strike had allegedly destroyed 4 air defense systems. This data remains unconfirmed.
The Israeli strikes came amid a new round of tensions in southern Idlib. As Turkey and Russia conduct tactical drills simulating the repelling of attacks on their patrols on the M4 highway, the Syrian Army and Turkish-backed militants exchanged strikes south of the area.
On September 2nd and 3rd, the Syrian Army shelled militant positions near Kafar Aweed and Baluon in southern Idlib, and al-Salaf in northern Lattakia. Pro-militant sources claim that the strikes hit civilian targets only. However, this is hardly believable as these areas are full of fortifications, including underground ones, created by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its al-Qaeda-linked allies.
Earlier, several Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed or injured in a series of militant attacks in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. Most likely this together with regular attacks on joint Turkish-Russian patrols on the M4 forced the Syrian Army to return to more active measures for implementing the ceasefire on the contact line.
The security situation still remains conflicted along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor highway and in the countryside of al-Mayadin. Over the past days, the Syrian Army, the National Defense Forces and Iranian-backed militias have conducted several raids against ISIS cells hiding in the desert. Nonetheless, these raids did not lead to a breakthrough in the fight against the terrorist group. Its members continue planting IEDs, ambushing convoys and assassinating people in the area. According to pro-militant sources, over 100 pro-government fighters were killed or went missing in western and southern Deir Ezzor in late August alone.
According to Syria and Russia, terrorists use the US-controlled areas on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and in al-Tanf as a foothold for attacks on Syrian troops. As long as this thorn remains in place, attacks will continue.