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Early on January 12, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out an airstrike on Syria. According to reports, Israeli warplanes, coming from the direction of Galilee, fired several missiles at a depot in the Damascus International Airport. The Syrian Air Defense Forces reportedly intercepted at least 8 of them.
Following the airstrike, Israeli warplanes were seen flying at high speed and low altitude over the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
On January 13, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the IAF had targeted several “Iranian depots full of Iranian weapons in the Damascus International Airport”.
This incident was the second Israeli attack on Syria within a few weeks. On December 25, Israeli warplanes targeted several military positions around the Syrian capital. While Israeli sources claimed that the positions were being used by Iranian forces only, the airstrikes injured several Syrian service members.
During the weekend, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) held a military exercise involving battle tanks in the Hatay province bordering the Syrian province of Idlib. TAF units were deployed in Hatay’s Yayladagi region.
Meanwhile, Jaysh al-Ahrar, a part of the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) coalition, has handed over Taftanaz airbase in the eastern Idlib countryside to Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
According to the available information, this step was a part of a surrender agreement which the NFL accepted few days ago. The Turkish-backed group will also have to hand over all of its heavy weapons in Idlib to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham soon.
The Taftanaz airbase was one of the key NFL strong points in this part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. The surrender of this point to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham just another indication that the terrorist group is the main “armed opposition force” in this part of Syria.
At the late hours of January 12, a unit of the Syrian Military Intelligence carried out a security operation in the town of Ayn Firkha in the southern governorate of al-Quneitra. Two suspects, Khalid Diab and Ali Diab, were arrested during the operation. Some Syrian opposition activists claimed that Syrian agents killed a civilian also. However, the pro-opposition Orient TV said that the agents shoot and injured a third suspect.
Such operations are usually carried out against members of terrorist groups, like ISIS and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), or against local operatives of the Israeli intelligence. Prior to its liberation in 2018, Ayn Firkha and many other towns in southern Syria were full of members of terrorist groups and Israeli spies, according to pro-government sources.
Last month, the Syrian intelligence neutralized prominent al-Qaeda commander Ayad al-Tubasi while he was plotting to re-launch an insurgency in southern Syria. In different periods, the infamous terrorist was member of Jabhat al-Nusra and Horas al-Din.