The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has used 4,239 weapons in the last three years during its ‘battle between the wars’ to suppress Iranian and Hizbullah activity, mainly in Syria, according to several Hebrew-language reports published on 13 August.
The IAF’s F-35Is have flown numerous combat missions since the first was announced in May 2018. (Israeli Air Force)
Citing documentation released by the IAF, the reports said the weapons were used against 955 targets, far more than have previously been reported, and that 70% of Israeli pilots have been involved in the campaign, with the new F-35I Adir jets carrying out dozens of missions.
Israel does not typically claim responsibility for airstrikes against targets in foreign countries, which primarily target Iranian weapons shipments to Hizbullah or attempts by the Lebanese group to build up its ability to attack Israel from Syrian territory. The strikes have also targeted Syrian air defences that threaten Israeli aircraft during the operations.
Damascus sporadically claims its air defences have shot down Israeli missiles and occasionally aircraft. The IAF reportedly conceded that some of its missiles have been intercepted by Syrian air defences but noted that none of its aircraft have been hit since an F-16I was lost to an S-200 (SA-5) surface-to-air missile (SAM) in February 2018.
Most of the reports said that the Syrian military had launched 873 SAMs at Israeli aircraft in the last three years, while some put the figure at 844. Most of the SAMs were launched by SA-17 (Buk-M2) and SA-22 (Pantsir-S1) systems. A few reports claimed that the IAF has destroyed a third of Syria’s air defence systems this year and Walla News noted that Syrians are killed in almost every such strike.