Multiple sources in Syria say a high-ranking Air Defense Commander, Yasser al-Sayyed, was assassinated Sunday in a drone strike on the road near Khan Arnava in Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights.
The commander was driving in a car at the time his vehicle was hit, but the source of the attack is not clear, nor is the commander’s real identity.
Update: It is now believed that the individual wasn’t a Syrian air defense commander, but an Iranian official tasked with setting up Iran’s military front on the Golan Heights.
— Putintin (@putintintin1) March 19, 2017
Al-Sayyed was identified by some sources as an operative in the Assad B’Golan militia, according to Arab media reports quoted by Israel’s Channel 10 television news team, and other Israeli media. Other sources claimed he was a member of the Hezbollah terrorist organization.
The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson’s unit has declined to comment on the attack, in accordance with its usual policy.
Syria threatened this weekend to ramp up its anti-aircraft defenses in response to a blunt threat by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who warned the next time Syrian military forces fire at Israeli aircraft the IAF will destroy the country’s entire air defense system.
Liberman’s threat followed a missile attack on Israeli fighter jets on Friday as they were returning to base in Israel from an attack on a strategic weapons convoy making a delivery to a Hezbollah terrorist base in Lebanon. The convoy was allegedly escorted by Iranian fighters from Iraq, according to Arab sources.
In addition, Arab sources claim the Israeli war planes destroyed a shipment of advanced North Korean missiles.
The air strike hit the convoy as it was moving across the Homs region, near Palmyra, in northern Syria.
The Israeli aircraft were already on their way back home, and just north of Jerusalem when they were targeted by Syrian missiles — among them at least one that triggered the Arrow-3 anti-missile defense system for the very first time.
That missile was not clearly identified to media, but the impact upon intercept was loud enough to wake up people as far south as Efrat, south of Jerusalem, and in the Jordan Valley.
A statement issued by the IDF said only that “several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria” and that its “aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles… At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or aircraft compromised.”
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot also said while speaking this weekend that Israel is focused on preventing Hezbollah from receiving shipments of advanced weapons, and will continue its efforts to block those deliveries.