Israel did not assume responsibility for the air raid carried out at an unusual location near Aleppo on a strategic Syrian target on the night between May 4 and 5. The Syrians blamed the Israel Air Force for the attack, which, according to foreign media reports, targeted the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in Aleppo, believed to be involved in an Iranian-backed precision missile project. Israel has been accused of other similar strikes in recent years. Unlike this week’s raid, which made headlines in the region, there appear to have been a growing number of airstrikes by unidentified planes against Syrian targets in recent months. Analysts attribute them to a significant acceleration of Israeli activity against the entrenchment of Iranian Shiite forces in the land of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Senior Israeli security sources say that for the first time since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011 and the parallel Iranian effort to turn Syria into a launch pad for its terrorist activity and a transshipment point for sophisticated military hardware, there are indications that Iran is beginning to pull back from Syrian territory. “Activity on the smuggling front has stopped,” a senior Israeli security source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “There is also a significant decline in the military presence of Iranian forces and allied Shiite militias.”