Israel secretly coordinates with the US on many of the air strikes it carries out in Syria, current and former US officials told The Wall Street Journal in a report published on Thursday.
While American officials have said little about the bombing missions, which have been aimed at interrupting Tehran’s flow of advanced weapons to Lebanese Hezbollah and diminishing Iran’s military forces and proxies in Syria, behind the scenes, many of Israel’s missions for several years have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at US Central Command and at the Pentagon, current and former officials said.
The US aim is to ensure that Israel’s bombing raids don’t interfere with the US-led military campaign against Islamic State terrorists whose self-declared caliphate has been destroyed but who have been attempting to mount a comeback.
The main focus of the U.S. review are Israeli missions in eastern Syria that pass near the al-Tanf garrison, a US outpost near the Syria-Jordan border that sits below one of the Israeli attack routes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The vast majority of those Israeli air strikes have been approved by the US, the report said. The US military doesn’t help the Israelis pick their targets, nor does the US review all Israeli operations carried out in Syria, current and former officials say.
It is a “well-developed and deliberate process,” one former US official said.
A representative of the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment, and the Pentagon declined to discuss the procedure.
The most recent air strike in Syria attributed to Israel took place last week, when Syria claimed Israel had targeted Damascus International Airport with missiles.
Satellite images published by Israeli company ImageSat International (ISI) showed significant damage to the runways at the airport. ISI said the strikes “completely disabled” operations at both the airport’s runways, with each runway appearing to have been struck three times.
Following the air strike, Syria’s Transportation Ministry announced it had suspended incoming and outgoing flights at the airport for 48 hours, citing technical disruptions.
On Wednesday, Israel’s Ambassador to Russia, Alex Ben-Zvi, was summoned for a reprimand by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov following the air strike.
Earlier, the Russian representative also condemned Israel's actions in Syria.
An official statement issued by the Russians said, "We are forced to emphasize that the ongoing Israeli shelling of Syrian territory, in violation of the basic norms of international law, is unacceptable. We strongly condemn Israel's provocative attack on Syrian civilian infrastructure. Such irresponsible actions create serious risks to international air traffic and put the lives of innocent people in real danger. We demand that the Israeli side stop this vicious practice."