Death Toll in Israeli Airstrikes on Syria’s Aleppo Rises to 52

38 Syrian soldiers, 7 Hezbollah members among the dead

Syria’s Aleppo Province saw the deadliest Israeli attacks in years on Friday, when Israeli warplanes hit multiple targets in the Aleppo countryside and targeted a Hezbollah warehouse near Aleppo’s airport. The warehouse reportedly housed rockets, and the attack resulted in a series of explosions.

As of Saturday, at least 52 people were reported killed in the Israeli attacks, 38 of them Syrian soldiers, 7 pro-Iranian forces and 7 members of Hezbollah. The toll may yet rise further, however, as civilians were also reported slain and still do not appear in the final count. Dozens were also reported wounded.

Israel declined comment on the killings in Syria, saying they do not comment on reports of their strikes from the media. They did however claim to have killed the deputy head of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile unit in a separate attack on southern Lebanon.

Israel’s involvement in the attacks doesn’t appear to be in any serious doubt, however, as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made comments on the matter referring to it as a “successful termination like the one executed this morning.” He suggested more attacks on pro-Iran factions should be expected as rockets continue to fly from Lebanon.

Israel has been engaged in ongoing attacks and counter-attacks with Hezbollah since the war in the Gaza Strip began. While Israel tries to limit Hezbollah’s access to weapons with attacks in Syria, this was the single deadliest strike since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011.

Syria’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that a number of civilians were killed in the attacks and property was damaged. The ministry did not offer numbers for Friday’s attacks yet, but at least two civilians were reported to have been slain on Thursday, even before the big attacks really started.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the attacks as both a violation of international law and a violation of Syrian sovereignty. They called on the international community to condemn the Israeli aggression. Russia, an ally of Syria, issued a statement deeply critical of the attacks.

Analysts speculate that Israel wants to reaffirm their willingness to further escalate tensions in the north despite growing international calls for peace and mounting isolation. Keeping additional weapons from getting to Hezbollah before a potential war also seems to be a strong motivator.

It’s not clear, however, how seriously the damage to a single warehouse would limit Hezbollah’s ability to smuggle weapons into Lebanon, and if anything, the deaths of several of their members in the Syrian attacks will probably motivate more retaliatory rocket fire against the Israeli north.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.