Syrian air defences responding to Israeli missiles targeting Iranian facilities near Damascus this week. (AFP)

April 23, 2019

Days after Israel’s air strikes on the Masyaf (Misyaf) missile plant in Hama Province, Syria, Israeli media have reported that a highly advanced “new missile” was deployed during the attacks.

According to the reports, the missiles are supersonic and “so advanced” that they can evade Russian-made long-range surface-to-air missile systems.

The air strikes were purportedly part of a series of Israeli attacks against Iran’s military positions in Syria. Three days after the attack, Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat published images depicting substantial damage to the missile plant.

The Syrian Army confirmed on April 13 that Israel had attacked the missile plant, damaging the site, leaving two people dead and 15 injured. Syrian opposition sources maintained that an unknown number of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) forces were killed in the attacks.

Earlier, the London-based Syrian Human Rights Watch had also reported that several people “associated with the IRGC” were killed during the strikes.
Neither Syria nor Iran has so far responded to the claims.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, implicitly confirmed that his country was involved in the air strikes against Masyaf. Celebrating his Likud party’s victory in recent national elections on the eve of Passover, he said, “Whenever a threat is recognized, we immediately attack it, as we did in recent days in the north (Syria).”

Israel maintains that Iran’s military presence in Syria is a threat to its existence and has repeatedly insisted it would “address it at any price.”

Israeli authorities have also made repeated claims in recent years that their forces have attacked Iranian targets based in Syria.

The new Israeli missile has been dubbed The Rampage after a popular video game. Developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elbit, the missile is a supersonic, long-range, accurate air-to-ground assault missile with an advanced navigation suit that allows for precision targeting, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Even if Syria managed to reach the activation stage of its Russian S300 missile system, it would not be capable of intercepting the new missile.

After years of weighing Israel’s concerns, Russia decided in 2018 to deliver the S300 to Syria. Days before the decision, on September 17, 2018, a Russian military Il-20 plane was shot down in Syria’s Latakia Province, killing all 15 people onboard.

Russia blamed Israel’s “irresponsible actions” for the incident, claiming that Israeli fighter jet pilots had deliberately used the wide-body aircraft as cover against Syrian missiles in a “deliberate provocation.”

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin later said the incident was caused by a “chain of tragic chance events.” Israel said its aircraft were not in the area at the time.

The system has not yet been used against Israel’s frequent attacks on Iranian targets or its associates’ bases in Syria. The Syrians reportedly require further training before using the advanced system.

RFE/RL

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.