Military Wiki
May 2013 Rif Dimashq airstrikes
Part of Syrian civil war and Iran–Israel proxy conflict
Rif Dimashq in Syria.svg
Rif Dimashq Governorate in Syria (red)
Operational scope Strategic
Planned by Israel (allegedly)
Objective Destroy a munitions depot,[1] stop transfer of weapons to Hezbollah
Date May 3, 2013 (2013-05-03) and May 5, 2013 (2013-05-05)
Executed by Israeli Air Force involvement alleged
Outcome unknown
Casualties 42+ soldiers dead (SOHR claim), and many civilian casualties (Syrian government claim)[2]

The May 2013 Rif Dimashq airstrikes were a series of aerial attacks made on targets in Syria on 3 and 5 May 2013.[3] The 3 May attack was on targets at Damascus International Airport.[1][4] The 5 May attacks were on targets at Jamraya, and the Al-Dimas and Maysalun areas in Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside).[5] Although officially Israel neither confirmed nor denied its involvement, former Mossad director Danny Yatom and former government member Tzachi Hanegbi assumed Israel's role behind the attack.[6] Syrian official sources denied any attack on its soil on May 3, but did accuse Israel over May 5 events.[citation needed]


Early on 3 May several unidentified warplanes attacked a warehouse at Damascus International Airport that contained advanced surface-to-surface missiles that had been transported from Iran and which were possibly bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. The warehouse was believed to be controlled by Hezbollah and Iran's Quds Force.[1] An unidentified American official said the missiles were Fateh-110s and two Israeli defense analysts said they included Scud Ds.[1][7][8] Satellite images showed that two facilities on opposite sides of the airport were destroyed.[4]

In the early hours of 5 May there were further air strikes on Syria. SANA, the Syrian state news agency, said there were strikes in three places: northeast of Jamraya; the Al-Dimas air base; and at Maysalun on the border with Lebanon.[5] Syria suggested it had been attacked with rockets.[9]

Targets of the attack

Photographs handed out by SANA and video shown on Al-Manar, a Lebanese television station affiliated with Hezbollah, showed buildings destroyed by the attack on the western side of Mount Qasioun at Al-Hamah, near Jamraya, in what appeared to be a chicken farm.[10] Analysis by Storyful identified the location, which was a mile from the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) facility at Jamraya where the airstrike of 31 January 2013 destroyed a convoy in the parking lot.[11] The same location was identified by Giuliano Ranieri.[12] The location is at 33°33′49.3″N 36°15′1″E / 33.563694°N 36.25028°E / 33.563694; 36.25028. Storyful identified this location as the site of the largest explosion in the Jamraya and Qasioun area that night.[11] Al-Manar said the SSRC facility was not hit on this occasion[13] and Storyful also said there was no evidence of a strike at the SSRC facility.[11] The Al-Manar television footage also showed the burning ruins of an ammunition depot at an airstrip in the Al-Dimas area.[10]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air raids had killed at least 42 soldiers and another 100 were missing. Other opposition sources put the death toll at 300.[2] A doctor at Tishreen military hospital in north Damascus said that 100 soldiers were killed in the attack.[14]


Domestic reaction

  •  Syria - On 7 May, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad characterized Israel's actions as "an act of terrorism".[15] Assad added that the airstrikes "revealed the extent" of the Israeli and Western involvement in the ongoing civil war. Assad also stated that the Syrian people and its army are prepared to confront Israeli, and other, ventures targeting Syria.

Foreign reactions

  •  Turkey - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented that attacking other countries was "unacceptable".[3]
  •  Iran - The Iranian Minster of Foreign Affairs, Ali Akbar Salehi, warned of grave consequences for the Middle East if the Assad regime should fall.[15]
  •  Lebanon - The leader of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman suggested that launching weapons at other sovereign states was breaking international law.[8][16]
  • United States - United States President Barack Obama did not comment on the airstrike, but stated "The Israelis, justifiably, have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah".[17]
  •  United Kingdom - British foreign secretary William Hague commented that "All countries have to look after their own national security, of course, and are able to take actions to protect their own national security".[18]
  •  Israel - Israeli politician Tzachi Hanegbi made it clear that any action was against Hezbollah, not against the Assad regime, without explicitly admitting Israel made the strikes.[2]
  •  Egypt - Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi's pointed out to Israel that attacking other countries was "increasing complexities".[19]
  •  Russia - Russia expressed "deep concern" about the offensive and warned not to create an anti-Syrian media circus.[20]


According to anonymous US officials, Israel launched another airstrike on 5 July 2013. It targeted Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles near the city of Latakia, and killed several Syrian troops.[21] It was later claimed by Hezbollah's Al Manar television that the 5 July event may have been caused by mortar fire exchanged in the area.[22]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Anne Barnard, Michael R. Gordon and Jodi Rudoren (4 May 2013). "Israel targeted Iranian missiles in Syria attack". New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Williams, Dan; Oweis, Khaled Yacoub (6 May 2013). "Israel says 'no winds of war' despite Syria air strikes". Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Turkey condemns Israeli air strikes in Syria". 7 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Barnett, David (16 May 2013). "Satellite imagery of Israeli airstrike at Damascus airport released". Threat Matrix. Public Multimedia Inc.. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Evans, Dominic; Holmes, Oliver (5 May 2013). "Israel strikes Syria, says targeting Hezbollah arms". Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  6. "Israel: Air strikes were 'against Hezbollah and not the Syrian regime'". 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-06-01. 
  7. Scott, David Clark (4 May 2013). "Why Israel bombed Syria, again". Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Israel enforces 'red line' with Syria airstrike". ABC News. 4 May 2013. 
  9. "Damascus military facilities 'hit by Israel rockets'". BBC News. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "After the airstrikes: Scenes of devastation left by Israeli rockets as Syria pledges retaliation for the 'declaration of war'". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 McMahon, Felim (7 May 2013). "Syria – [Public Analysis of where air strikes blamed on Israel hit – May 05"]. Storyful. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  12. Cenciotti, David (8 May 2013). "What kind of target did the Israeli Air Force really hit in Syria?". The Aviationist. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  13. "Israel carries out second air strike in Syria". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  14. Syrian Observatory: 42 soldiers killed in Israel strike
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Assad: Syria army capable of confronting Israel". Jerusalem Post. 7 May 2013.
  16. "Israeli warplanes 'launch air strike inside Syria'". BBC News. 4 May 2013. 
  17. "Obama: Israel has right to defend itself from Hezbollah". 4 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  18. "Syria air strike: Israel has the right to defend itself, says William Hague". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  19. "Egypt condemns airstrikes against Syria, warns they complicate ongoing civil war". 5 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  20. "Russia 'concern' over Israel air strikes". 6 May 2013.
  21. "Report: Israel behind recent strike on Syria missile depot, U.S. officials say". 12 July 2013. 
  22. Mysterious explosion hits Assad munitions cache in Latakia". Ynetnews. 6 July 2013.

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