At least 15 people were killed in a mystery air attack on a base used by Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias, a war monitor group focused on Syria said Tuesday.
Citing “reliable” sources, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the intensive airstrikes continued from 5 a.m. until 9 a.m Monday, and hit the Imam Ali base near the town of Abu Kamal, in eastern Deir Ezzor region close to the border with Iraq.
“The attack left several casualties and destroyed positions, bases, and weapons warehouses,” the SOHR report said in its initial report.
On Monday it identified the dead as “15 Iranian-backed militiamen of Iraqi nationalities.”
Sources said that in the wake of the attack, forces transported dead and injured fighters across the border into Iraq and that Iranian forces in Al-Bokamal were on high alert and massing more fighters.
The reported timing of the Deir Ezzor attack put it hours after Israel thwarted an attempt by four men to plant bombs inside its territory along the border with Syria late Sunday night. The attackers were all killed by soldiers on the ground and an unspecified aircraft that fired at them. No Israeli soldiers were injured.
A spokesman said that the military did not yet know which military or terrorist organization the men belonged to, but the IDF was looking into the matter.
He said it was not immediately clear if it was an isolated incident or if it was tied to ongoing tensions with Hezbollah, the Iran-backed terror group that has vowed to carry out some kind of attack on Israel in retaliation for the death of one of its fighters in an airstrike in Syria last month that it attributed to the Jewish state. There has been no comment from the Lebanon-based group.
Iranian bases in Deir Ezzor have been targeted in the past in strikes attributed to Israel, which has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.
Though the Israel Defense Forces generally refuses to make statements about individual strikes, Israeli officials have confirmed the broad outlines of a several-year air campaign to keep Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria.