Israel reportedly launched surface-to-surface missiles at a number of targets on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during the predawn hours on Tuesday.
Hit in the barrage were a Syrian military outpost and a facility used by the regime of dictator Bashar Assad for “financial” purposes, according to Syrian state media.
The targets were all in the border town of Quneitra, a largely abandoned town that sits in the UN-monitored buffer zone between Israel and Syria. During the early years of the ongoing Syrian civil war, Quneitra was controlled by rebel forces. But the Assad regime and its Iranian allies regained control of the town in 2018.
Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes on Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian Army targets inside Syria over the past several years. Most of those have taken the form of airstrikes carried out by Israel Air Force aircraft.
So, why use surface-to-surface missiles now?
Israeli media speculated that this had to do with a recent meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is the primary ally of the Assad regime in Syria, and as part of its efforts to keep the local government from falling has provided the Syrian Army with advanced Russian-made aerial defenses.
The fact that the Israel Air Force, which exclusively uses American-made aircraft, routinely outmaneuvers and defeats these defenses is a major embarrassment to Russia and the Russian military industry.