Strike Likely Targeted Surface-to-surface Missiles Iran Seeks to Deploy in Syria

The timing and magnitude of the attack could suggest a large arms depot was hit, in what could be an attempt to thwart an Iranian revenge over Israeli bombing

Amos Harel
Amos Harel
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Aerial shot of 47th Brigade base south of Hama
Aerial shot of 47th Brigade base south of HamaCredit: Google Earth
Amos Harel
Amos Harel

The attack on Syria Sunday night apparently targeted major arms caches, including surface-to-surface missiles that Iran seeks to deploy in Syria, according to assessments.

Last week reports said that U.S. and Israeli spy agencies have been watching movements of Iranian arms to Syria, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will not allow Iran to set up positions and bases in Syria from which to fire missiles.

>> Israel braces for Iranian retaliation for Syria strike – but war isn’t inevitable | Analysis ■ LATEST UPDATES ON SYRIA STRIKE

The timing and magnitude of the attack could attest that a major cache of arms had been hit, in what may be an attempt to foil any Iranian response to the attack on the T4 airbase earlier this month, which has been attributed to Israel.

An official from a regional alliance including Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, told the New York Times on Monday that some 200 missiles were destroyed in the strike, adding that 16 people were killed, among them 11 Iranians.The official spoke on the condition of anonymity, as he was permitted to speak to the press. Citing the source and other regional officials allied with Iran, the report said that Tehran is expected to retaliate against Israel for the strikes, perhaps after parliamentary elections in Lebanon, scheduled for May 6, in which candidates from Hezbollah are running.

The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar also reported that the bases housed weapons storehouses, serving both the Syrian army and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Al-Akhbar said the weapons caches had been attacked with bunker-busting missiles. The intensity of the blasts at the caches shook the ground: Syrian state television reported that the European-Mediterranean seismology institute announced there had been a small quake in the area, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale.

A screenshot of a tweet shows the Iranian T4 base in Syria after an Israeli airstrike.Credit: Fars News Agency

On Sunday evening, the Syrian army stated that its bases on the outskirts of the city of Homs, and in the district of Aleppo, had been attacked. A Syrian human rights organization said the attack had been on the home base of the 47th Brigade, at which Iranian forces are stationed, and on bases belonging to the regime of President Bashar Assad in the area of the Salhab airport, west of Hama. Several dozen people died in the attack, the group said say.

Earlier, the Iranian agency ISNA reported that among the dead were 18 Iranian consultants but later the story disappeared, and Iran denied the report.

According to several Syrian media outlets, the strikes targeted the 47th Brigade base in the southern Hama district, a military facility in northwestern Hama, and a facility north of the Aleppo International Airport.

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