Reuters on Wednesday broke the news that the rocket attack in Damascus on Sunday that Syria blamed on Israel hit an installation where Iranian officials were meeting to advance programs to develop drone or missile capabilities of Tehran’s allies in Syria.
A source close to the Syrian government with knowledge of Sunday’s strike and its target said it hit a gathering of Syrian and Iranian technical experts in drone manufacturing, though he said no top-level Iranian was killed.
“The strike hit the centre where they were meeting as well as an apartment in a residential building. One Syrian engineer and one Iranian official – not high-ranking – were killed,” the source told Reuters.
A second source, who spoke to Syrian security personnel briefed on the matter, said Iranians were attending the meeting of technical experts in an Iranian military installation in the basement of a residential building inside a security compound.
He said one of those killed was a Syrian army civil engineer who worked at Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre, which Western countries say is a military institution that has produced missiles and chemical weapons. Damascus denies this.
A regional security source said one Revolutionary Guards engineer involved in Iran’s missile programme was seriously injured and transferred to a hospital in Tehran. In contrast, two other mid-ranking Guards members at the meeting were unharmed.
Another source, a regional intelligence official familiar with the strike, said the target was part of a covert guided missile production programme run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
A fifth regional source with knowledge of the strike and its target said officials from Iran and Hezbollah had been targeted. The Lebanese group, which fought a five-week war with Israel in 2006, has sent fighters to help Assad drive back rebels who once nearly encircled Damascus.
UN official is “concerned” over Recent Israeli airstrikes
Meanwhile, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Mike Robson, raised concern over the recent Israeli airstrikes that targeted central Damascus.
Robson said, in a press release according to North Press, “Attacks must never be directed against civilians or civilian objects.”
Robson also called on all parties to the conflict in Syria to “abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law” and to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians and their objects in the conduct of hostilities.
He stressed that Syrians have the right to lead a life free from fear of violence and destruction.
The world must not abandon northwest Syria (again)
Othman Moqbel, CEO of Action For Humanity and a commentator at Al-Jazeera, wrote that the international community has for long turned a blind eye to the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria. In fact, many in the West did not even know Syria’s brutal conflict is not yet over until this month’s earthquake returned the country to the global spotlight. Indeed, a poll commissioned in the United Kingdom by our charity, Syria Relief, in 2021 – during one of the most intense moments in the conflict and as humanitarian needs spiralled to unprecedented levels – revealed that only 58 percent of Britons were aware that the Syrian war was still ongoing at that time.
Since the February 6th earthquake, Syria finally started to receive, to a certain extent, the attention it deserves and the assistance it needs from the world. But can we be certain that the international community will not abandon Syria once another crisis starts dominating the news cycle?
Last year, Pakistan and war-torn Yemen suffered from fatal floods. There were news reports, pledges and promises of help, but the world’s attention dried up faster than the floodwaters.
Now, I am afraid the same will soon happen to Syria. I am afraid that once a new crisis grabs the headlines, the plight of the Syrian people will be forgotten.
The world is once again looking at Syria due to the earthquakes, and it should not look away. Governments and UN bodies must treat this tragedy as a wake-up call – they should not only take action to swiftly meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Syrian people but also start working towards securing a lasting, just and sustainable peace in the country. We, the public, must pressure our leaders to act. We must make sure they do not simply move on to the next tragedy, problem or conflict once the earthquakes fall off the news agenda.
Today Syrians are suffering so much because the world has been ignoring their plight for years. The earthquakes caused so much destruction and pain in Syria because they tore through what was already a hotspot of poverty and deprivation. We should make sure the world does not turn its back on Syrians again – if it does, the damage it causes would be worse than that of 100 natural disasters.
Follow-up committee of General Arab Conference calls for lifting unjust siege on Syria
On the government side, SANA reported that the follow-up committee of the General Arab Conference called for removing the unjust Western embargo on Syria and to sustain relief for those affected by the earthquake.
The committee holding its weekly virtual meeting on Wednesday, chaired by the Conference Chairman Khaled al-Sufyani, referred to double standards in the stances of the governments of Washington and the West Atlantic in respect of the amount of aid provided over the devastating earthquake in comparison to other assistance in other crises, especially in Ukraine, in light of its insistence on the unjust and illegal blockade on Syria.
The committee called for lifting the Western embargo imposed on Syria and holding a high-level Arab meeting with Syrian participation to address the imbalance in the relationship between Arab countries.
On the other hand, the meeting overviewed the measures adopted by the Arab and International Campaign to break the siege on Syria and the participation in the earthquake relief work and reconstruction of the affected areas.