Israel Struck Syria 'With U.S. Intel After Pompeo, Mossad Head Met in D.C.'

Senior U.S. intelligence official says Israel's strike on eastern Syria targeted arms depots, as well as components linked to Iran's nuclear program

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021.Credit: Andrew Harnik,AP

Israeli airstrikes in eastern Syria in which dozens of people were killed were carried out with intelligence provided by the United States, a senior U.S. intelligence official with knowledge of the attack said Wednesday – a rare incidence of publicized cooperation between the two countries over choosing targets in Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 57 people were killed in the attacks on eastern Syria on Wednesday, with most of them belonging to pro-Iranian militias.

Earlier, the observatory said that 23 people were killed in the strikes.

The official, who requested anonymity to speak about sensitive national security matters, said Tuesday’s strikes targeted a series of warehouses in Syria that were being used in a pipeline to store and stage Iranian weapons. The official said the warehouses also served as a pipeline for components that support Iran’s nuclear program.

He added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the airstrikes with Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, at a public meeting in popular Washington restaurant Café Milano on Monday.

The strikes hit the areas of Deir al-Zur and Abu Kamal close to Syria's border with Iraq. The Syrian Observatory said the strikes targeted 18 sites of pro-Iranian militias.

This is the latest in a series of alleged Israeli attacks on Iranian-backed sites throughout Syria, bringing the total to four rounds of aistrikes within two weeks.

“They burnt Iranian positions in Deir el-Zour,” said Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist from Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour province who runs an activist collective that reports on news in the border area.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

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

Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.

On Tuesday, Haaretz's Amos Harel reported that the Israel Defense Forces, for their part, have been on a high level of defensive alert in recent days.

He added that an aerial defense battery of Patriot missiles was deployed in Eilat, and an exceptionally large presence of fighter planes has been seen in the sky over the country, in all sectors and for a considerable portion of the day.

On January 6, an attack was reported near Al-Kiswah, west of Damascus, not far from the Syrian-Lebanese border. During the preceding 10 days, Arab media reported two additional attacks, one against Syria’s military industrial complex (the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center) north of Damascus and one south of the capital, in the northern portion of the Syrian Golan Heights.

On Saturday, a military spokesman said missiles flying over the Golan Heights targeted several locations and air defences downed several missiles.

In December 2020, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said the missile strikes had "slowed down Iran's entrenchment in Syria".

"We have struck over 500 targets this year, on all fronts, in addition to multiple clandestine missions," Kochavi said in comments published in Israeli media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have repeatedly said Israel will not allow Iranian entrenchment in Syria, vowing to do everything to prevent it.

After the Capitol Hill riots, will the blood on Trump's hands stain Israel? LISTEN

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage