Published: Thu, January 14, 2021

Israeli raids on Syria, deadliest since 2018, kill 23

Israeli raids on Syria, deadliest since 2018, kill 23

Aircraft bombed a number of locations in eastern Syria in the early hours of the morning Wednesday in what appears to be Israel's most extensive string of airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in years.

According to Syria's official SANA news agency, the strikes targeted sites in the areas of Boukamal and Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria, where there is a major presence of Iranian-backed militias.

The Center, which is affiliated with the Syrian opposition, claimed that 14 Syrian soldiers and 43 members of pro-Iranian militias were killed and 28 injured in the overnight attack attributed to Israel.

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.

Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces, Lebanese Hezbollah and "Fatemiyoun"-aka, Hezbollah Afghanistan-are known to be stationed in this region, which hosts a center for training fighters, according to SOHR".

"At 1:10 am, the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault on the town of Deir Ezzor and the Boukamal region", SANA said, citing a military source.

The Associated Press cited a senior USA intelligence official with knowledge of the attacks as saying the strikes targeted warehouses being used to store and stage Iranian weapons, and that they were done with intelligence provided by the United States.

The official claimed the warehouses also served as a pipeline for components that support Iran's nuclear programme, AP said.

At the same time, the Israeli military has boosted defenses in the south by deploying Iron Dome anti-missile batteries near the city of Eilat.

"The results of the aggression are now being verified", it added. An unnamed military official was quoted as saying Syrian air defences responded to the incoming missiles.

Israel routinely carries out raids in Syria, mostly against targets affiliated with Iran in what it says is a bid to prevent its arch foe from securing further foothold along its borders.

Observers have warned that Donald Trump and Israel could up the ante against Iran and its regional allies in the dying days of the USA president's tenure.

The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Gen Aviv Kochavi, told Israeli media last month that it had struck more than 500 targets during 2020 "on all fronts, in addition to multiple clandestine missions".

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 war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more since it erupted after the brutal repression of anti-government protests almost a decade ago.

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