Alleged Israeli Strike on Iran-backed Militia Kills Five, Syrian Monitor Says

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A streak of light seen above skies near Damascus during what Syrian authorities said was an Israeli air strike in February 2020.
A streak of light seen above skies near Damascus during what Syrian authorities said was an Israeli air strike in February 2020.Credit: SANA Handout / Reuters

An Israeli attack on weapons depots belonging to an Iran backed-militia outside Aleppo killed five people in the employ of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. 

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The attack reportedly occurred just before midnight on Monday in the Al-Safirah area on the southern foothills of Aleppo. Two of the casualties in the attack were Syrians and the other three were either Lebanese or Iranians, the director of the Observatory, Rami Abdulrahman, told the al-Arabiya network.

Earlier today, Syrian state news organizations reported that Syria's air defenses intercepted most of the missiles in the attack and that the targets were still being identified.

A footage of the alleged Israeli strike southeast of Aleppo by Syrian state news SANA

The reports offered no further details. There was no immediate comment from Israel.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has activists on the ground in Syria, said the strikes were followed by loud explosions and that the weapons depots were located inside Syrian military posts.

The attack took place on the eve of Eid Al-Adha, one of Islam’s holiest holidays.

Last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that eight people were killed in an alleged Israeli missile strike over Damascus. Earlier, Syrian air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile strike over Damascus, the Syrian capital, Syrian state media reported, while military defectors said the missiles may have targeted Iranian-backed militias.

That incident came nearly a month after Syrian state TV reported that an Israeli helicopter had opened fire on a home in the Syrian Golan Heights, days after it also reported a similar attack by an Israeli helicopter in Quneitra. Also in early May, Syrian state media reported that Israel had fired missiles at towns near Latakia, a regime stronghold and the site of a Russian air base, killing one person and wounding six. 

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

Israel fears Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.

Western intelligence sources have said Israel’s stepped-up strikes on Syria since last year are part of a shadow war approved by the United States. The strikes are also part of an anti-Iran policy that in the last two years has undermined Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.

The intelligence sources said that Israel has over the past year expanded its targets across Syria, where thousands of Iranian-backed militias have been involved in regaining much of the territory lost by Syrian President Bashar Assad to insurgents in a nearly decade-old civil war.

Jack Khoury contributed to this article. 

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