Air strikes in Syria target militias backed by Iran
Unknown warplanes targeted an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday.
The overnight strikes came amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the air strikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military “will act — and currently are acting — against them.”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes began late Sunday and continued after midnight, killing 18 Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters and also causing extensive damage.
The Sound and Pictures, a local activist collective in eastern Syria, gave a higher death toll and said 21 fighters were killed and 36 wounded. The collective said the strikes targeted positions belonging to Iranian militias and those of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a mostly Iran-backed Shiite militia.
Israel views Iran as its greatest threat and has allegedly struck Iran-linked targets as far away as Iraq in recent weeks. Israel is known to have struck Iranian targets in Syria on numerous occasions — as well as in Lebanon.
Also Monday, Lebanon’s Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone over southern Lebanon.