Monday, 25 January, 2021

Israeli Warplanes Strike Eastern Syria

US soldiers in a Bradley tank patrol an area near Syria’s north-eastern Semalka border crossing with Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous territory Intense Israeli airstrikes in east Syria said to kill dozens
Deanna Wagner | 14 January, 2021, 14:52

The Syrian state news agency Sana reported the latest strikes but gave few details.

The raids killed five Syrian soldiers and 11 allied fighters belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Lebanese Hezbollah and the Fatimid Brigade, which includes pro-Iranian Afghan fighters, the Observatory said, although their nationalities and a precise breakdown were not immediately known.

Israel has not commented, but it often attacks Iran-linked targets in Syria.

The Observatory said it recorded 39 Israeli strikes inside Syria in 2020 that hit 135 targets, including military posts, warehouses or vehicles.

"The Iranian entrenchment in Syria is in a clear slowdown as a result of IDF activity, but we still have a long way to go to complete our goals", he said.

Iran is believed to have deployed hundreds of troops to Syria and to have armed, trained and financed thousands of Shia Muslim militiamen - from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen - to support forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the nine-year Syrian civil war.

According to Abu Layla, who cited no sources, the missiles were brought into Syria earlier this month and stored inside the militia's warehouses in the Deir Ezzor region, which contain a series of underground tunnels and storerooms.

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The Israeli air force carried out more than 18 strikes against multiple targets in an area stretching from the eastern town of Deir Ezzor to the Boukamal desert at the Syrian-Iraqi border, according to the Britain-based war monitor. An unnamed military official was quoted as saying Syrian air defences responded to the incoming missiles.

A senior US intelligence official with knowledge of the attack told The Associated Press that the airstrikes were carried out with intelligence provided by the United States - a rare incidence of publicized co-operation between the two countries over choosing targets in Syria.

He described the air strikes as "a painful blow that indicates how much the Israelis are monitoring Iranian movements in every inch of Syria".

The strikes, which reportedly targeted more than 15 Iran-linked facilities, were the fourth reported attack by Israel against Iranian targets in Syria in the past two and a half weeks, a significant increase from the normal rate of such strikes. Israel will work on easing the danger of the possible return to the bad deal, they said.

Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman called the Israeli raids the "deadliest since June 2018" when strikes on the same region killed at least 55 pro-government fighters, including Iraqis as well as Syrians.

The strikes came amid rising tensions in the region and amid concerns that Iran might carry out attacks to avenge last year's killing of one of its top commanders, Gen. Qassem Soleimani.