Israel’s Air Force reportedly struck multiple military sites in Damascus, Syria during the overnight hours of July 20, which resulted in the confirmed killing of a Lebanese Hezbollah fighter.
Additionally, Syria’s state news agency (SANA) said seven Syrian soldiers were wounded in the attacks – but that casualty account was contradicted by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which reported that five pro-Iranian soldiers were killed and four were wounded in the airstrikes.
SANA reported that Israeli jets began their attack against sites in southern Damascus shortly before 22:00 local time.
“A military source told SANA that at 21:48 Monday, July 20, 2020, the Israeli enemy’s Air Force, launched a number of missiles from over the occupied Syrian Golan, against the southern part of Damascus,” the report said.
SANA also reported that the Syrian “army air defenses confronted the aggression and shot down the majority of the missiles.”
Less than 24 hours later, reports surfaced on pro-Hezbollah social media that a fighter had been killed Monday night during the reported Israeli airstrikes in southern Damascus.
The website Central Military Media, an official source for Hezbollah and Axis of Resistance related news, confirmed the killing of a Hezbollah fighter, Ali Kamel Mohsen Jawad, during the reported Israeli airstrikes in Damascus.
“The Central War Media of the Islamic Resistance, through a statement, announced the martyrdom of a Hizbullah Mujahideen as a result of the Israeli aggression on the outskirts of Damascus International Airport yesterday, Monday, July 20, 2020,” the statement read.
The killing of a Hezbollah fighter on Syrian soil is problematic for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which has avoided killing Hezbollah fighters operating in Syrian territory.
As previously detailed in FDD’s Long War Journal, a missile targeted a Jeep driven by Hezbollah members near the Lebanese border in Syria back on April 15. The first missile struck near the vehicle which acted as a warning to the occupants. A short time later, the vehicle was struck by a second missile after the Hezbollah fighters had exited.
In August 2019, the IDF killed Hezbollah fighters Hassan Yousef Zabeeb and Yasser Ahmad Daher. Citing an IDF source, The Times of Israel reported that the two planned an attack against Israel using a drone-laden with explosives.
After the deaths, Hezbollah vowed to retaliate and did so eight days later by targeting an IDF military vehicle with two ATGMs. The attempt was unsuccessful, avoiding a wider escalation of conflict in the region.
Taking Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s past threats at face-value, Hezbollah military planners are likely considering how to retaliate for the killing of Jawad. Hezbollah is facing a difficult situation in Lebanon due to the country’s current financial crises and will have to choose an appropriate response that will avoid triggering a conflict neither side is looking for but will be enough to satisfy Hezbollah’s supporters and leadership.
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