In the course of January 2019, the Syrian regime and its affiliated media escalated their statements against Israel. The statements came in response to Israel's continued attacks against the Iranian presence in Syria: On January 11, a Syrian military source reported that Israeli planes had fired several rockets into the Damascus area, and on January 20 the Syrian army reported an Israeli attack in the south of the country, which, unusually, had taken place during the day.  The Syrian regime responded by firing a surface-to-surface missile into the Israeli Golan. This prompted Israel to launch what the Syrian regime called "its most violent and large-scale attack" in Syria to date, which, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, resulted in the death of at least 21 people, 12 of them members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). In an unusual move, Israel admitted to carrying out this last attack, one of whose targets was the Damascus international airport.
Alongside its standard responses to the attacks – such as claims that Israel dares to attack Syria only thanks to the support it receives from the U.S. and that the UN Security Council (UNSC) is not doing enough to stop it – the Syrian regime has begun taking a harsher tone and threatening a direct attack on Israel. Articles in the regime and pro-regime press likewise made threats, warning Israel that Syria has missile capabilities of which it is unaware and that its end is near.
This report reviews the threats voiced by Syrian officials and in the Syrian press against Israel.
The January 21 Israeli attack in Syria (image: sana.sy, January 21, 2019)
Syrian Regime: Israel Will Not Be Able To Withstand The Syrian Missiles, Which Can Reach Every Part Of It
In a January 22, 2019 UNSC session on the situation in the Middle East, the Syrian representative to the U.N., Bashar Al-Ja'afari, criticized the UN for failing to condemn "the almost daily Israeli aggression" against Syria, the latest example of which, he said, was Israel's bombing of the international airport in Damascus. Directing a threatening message at Israel, he asked: "Is it not time that the UNSC took the necessary measures to stop the repeated Israeli attacks on the soil of the Syrian Arab Republic? Or must Syria draw the attention of the war-mongers on this council by exercising its legitimate right to self-defense and responding to the Israeli attack on the [Damascus] civilian international airport with a similar attack on the airport in Tel Aviv?"
Retired Syrian general Reza Shariqi told the Russian news agency Sputnik that Israel will not be able to withstand a Syrian missile attack. "In the last few years," he said, "the Syrian Arab army managed to preserve its main deterrence capabilities, chief of them its missile [array], which is perfectly intact and has suffered no damage. There has been no decline in the number or effectiveness of the missiles, especially the strategic ones, despite the Israeli enemy's hectic attempts to discover them or use [its] agents to attack the missile facilities and destroy them, [attempts] that have been completely unsuccessful. [The enemy] knows that today, the war has become a war of missiles and surprises, and that it is wars of this kind that will change the face of the region when they break out... If war breaks out, Israel's Iron Dome [system] will not be able to stop the barrage of Syrian missiles, strategic missiles that will be able to reach every target in the occupied lands..."
Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, 'Ali 'Abd Al-Karim 'Ali, said in this context: "The S-300 [missile] system is operational, and Israel understands this. The Syrian army is capable of dealing with the enemy... Syria is now much stronger than it was in the beginning of the crisis... Syria and Lebanon may coordinate with each other in dealing with the aggression, because both have been attacked by the same enemy."
The Lebanese daily Al-Diyar reported that 65 Syrian combat pilots had sent a letter to President Assad asking for permission to use their aircraft to stage suicide attacks against Israeli airbases. According to the report, the pilots wrote: "Mr. President, we can no longer tolerate the fact that the planes of the Israeli enemy are bombing the capital, Damascus. If each pair of Syrian planes is loaded with four bombs, we will be able and willing to carry out martyrdom operations and destroy the 30 airbases of the Israeli air force, and paralyze Israel's planes, so that the enemy will know the cost of bombing Damascus and its environs..."
We Will Hit The Israeli Planes Even Outside Syrian Airspace
As stated, several articles in the Syrian regime and pro-regime press likewise took a threatening tone against Israel. Turki Saqer, a columnist for the government daily Teshreen, threatened that the regime would target Israeli planes even outside Syrian airspace. He wrote: "Syrian skies cannot conceivably be an open arena for the Israeli planes; that is why [these planes] do not dare to enter into Syrian airspace. At the same time, the enemy, Israel, does not want to believe that the rules have changed and that the Syrian air defense systems are much more effective than it expected when it decided to exchange its airstrikes for missile attacks launched from outside Syria. [When it did this], it was surprised to discover that its missiles have lost their effectiveness and that they fly through Syria's skies [only to be intercepted] like trinkets before reaching their targets.
"There is no doubt that Israel's repeated attacks in Syria, which are occurring just as the terror gangs and their allies are being increasingly defeated by the Arab Syrian army and its allies, are fully coordinated with the U.S. – [for the U.S. is] the chief protector of terror and terrorists and the chief protector of Israel, shielding it from being held accountable by the world. This encourages the leaders of the Zionist entity to keep up their constant crimes without fear of punishment or retaliation. But ultimately, if the Israeli leaders continue this series of crimes, they should expect a more forceful reaction. We will not only intercept their missiles but target the planes from which they are fired even when they are outside Syrian airspace, so that the tyrannical enemy will realize that whoever strikes [Syria], no matter how powerful, suffers a much more powerful counter-blow."
The Time Has Come For Israel To Disappear From The Region
Yousuf Jadd Al-Haqq, a columnist for the pro-regime Al-Watan daily, wrote that Israel's end is near: "The emergence of the resistance coalition in the region has reversed the power-balance, so that the once-intimidating Israel has started to fear for its very existence. For the day will come when the coalition forces, together, will be able to [target] every inch of Palestine's territory, which the invading Zionist entity is occupying by force...
"Israelis have nowhere to run in the region, unlike the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967 and the Lebanese in 2006, who were able to find shelter, almost all of them in Syria and some also in Jordan and Egypt. Israeli have nobody to shelter them in the region, so they will find themselves aboard European or American ships that will wait for them on the Tel Aviv coast to rescue them from hell. Therefore, they cannot adapt to the consequences and implications of war, nor will they be sorry to leave the land that was never theirs in the first place and to which they have no connection, except for delusions and fairytales invented by their leaders, politicians and rabbis. Hence, they will not fight and will not resist; their only concern will be to flee and renew their lives of old in the countries from which they and their forefathers came...
"Netanyahu's provocative moves vis-a-vis Syria, Iran and the other countries of the resistance coalition will have consequences that will not allow him or his entity to keep up their current arrogant, haughty and conceited behavior – [behavior] that was made possible by the new circumstances in which certain Arabs are rushing to [embrace] him and in which people like Trump and his gang have come to power in the U.S. But the certain fact is that Syria, Iran and the resistance will not remain silent for long in the face of Netanyahu's Israeli acts of provocation and aggression against them, whether they are being carried out for electoral reasons, as a display of leadership, or in order to evade the consequences of Netanyahu's upcoming trial. The Israeli presence on our land is now approaching its end, and who knows? Perhaps the presence of a man like Netanyahu at the head of this alien entity is a [opportunity] granted us by fate to realize the prophecy about this entity's [ultimate] demise – because today, 70 years after [Israel's] founding, it is definitely time for this to happen."
Syria Has Missiles Israel Does Not Know About
Responding to the statements by Syria's representative to the UN, Bashar Ja'afari, about a possible Syrian attack on Israel's Ben Gurion airport, Al-Watan columnist Fares 'Aziz Dib said that this statement should be taken seriously, especially since Syria possesses missiles Israel does not know about. He wrote: "As usual with statements of this sort, some people, deliberately or not, emptied it of content by noting, for example, that such statements have frequently been made by Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, [but were never implemented]. These people do not realize that there is no comparing these two [figures] and what they represent. With all due respect to Nasrallah, he is not a representative of a country. He is the leader of a popular resistance [movement, and represents] the view of all the free people of the world, but [still,] an official statement by a state representative is something else entirely, and the enemy understands its implications much better than the supporters of the resistance.
"Moreover, this statement should not be regarded as a direct message only to the Zionist enemy. The enemy, [Israel], does not need such messages, for it knows perfectly well that Syria reacts [to attacks on it], though it has never had the courage to admit the extent of its losses... The reality on the ground suggests that [Al-Ja'afari's] statement is a kind of 'news flash' for all those who still defend Israel's foolish [attacks].
"More importantly, the equation of 'airport for airport' was not randomly chosen. It ultimately includes an unknown that the Israelis have failed to discover throughout the eight years of the [Syria] war – [namely] whether the weapon that can target the Tel Aviv airport is a weapon unknown to Israel, [a weapon] that it is still sending its agents to seek information about. In the past, [the Israelis] tried to use the lie of 'destroying Syria's air defenses' by means of their agents in the terror organizations, only to discover that what was destroyed had been inoperative to begin with. But what about [the weapons] that are yet to be discovered?"
 Sana.sy, January 11, 2019.
 Sana.sy, January 20, 2019.
 Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 22, 2019.
 Syrianhr.com, January 22, 2019.
 Bbc.com, January 21, 2019.
 Sana.sy, January 22, 2019.
 Arabic.sputniknews.com, January 25, 2019.
 Elnashra.com, January 25, 2019.
 Addiyarcomcarloscharlesnet.com, January 22, 2019. It should be noted that Al-Diyar did not publish a copy of the letter.
 Teshreen (Syria), January 14, 2019.
 Al-Watan (Syria), January 24, 2019.
 Al-Watan (Syria), January 27, 2019.