Twenty-one people were killed in the extensive Israeli strikes on Syria overnight Sunday, a war watchdog reported on Tuesday, adding that at least 12 of them were members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
According to the report by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, six of those killed in the attack were Syrian soldiers and militiamen and the rest were "foreigners."
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The Israeli military said that it struck Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria, including sites of the Guards' Quds Force, in response to a surface-to-surface missile toward northern Israel a day earlier. Israel said the targets included munition storage facilities, an intelligence site and a military training camp, as well as a number of Syrian air defense batteries.
The Russian military and the Syrian air force did not activate their more advanced systems, the S-300, nor the S-400, which is operated by Russian soliders alone.
Israel said that the strike was a respose to the missile attack, which it says was Iranian-made and launched by Iranian forces in Syria. The missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome air-defense system.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, believe Iran will respond more aggressively to recent Israeli strikes as the civil war nears its end and the country is carved up into areas of control.
The assessment is that although Iran’s economic situation and its involvement in the war in Yemen has led it to reduce its presence in Syria, it has not given up its desire to solidify its control there.
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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps was set up after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shi’ite clerical ruling system and revolutionary values. It answers to Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
The Quds (Jerusalem) force, led by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, is the branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guards which operates outside of Iran's borders. Members of the Quds force have fought in support of President Bashar Assad in Syria's civil war and have backed Iraqi security forces in their battle against Islamic State militants in recent years.