Airstrikes targeting positions of Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria killed nine fighters on Sunday in the second such raid in 24 hours, a war monitor said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel was “likely responsible” for the strikes near the Iraqi border.
The strikes took place in Al-Siyal desert in the Albukamal countryside, east of Deir Ezzor, the monitor said.
They came hours after a similar raid killed six other Tehran-backed fighters, raising the total toll to 15 killed in 24 hours, according to the monitor.
The fighters killed in the early Sunday raids were mostly Iraqi nationals, according to Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman.
There was no official comment from Israel.
Images from the Tasnim news agency pic.twitter.com/y8ZweJZNL7
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) June 27, 2020
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.
It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria, but says Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.
On Saturday, airstrikes also blamed on Israel hit positions belonging to regime forces and Iran-backed militias near the border with Iraq, the Observatory said.
Four Syrian nationals were among the six fighters killed in that attack, the monitor added.
The strike came hours after semi-official media in Iran reported that Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps head Esmail Ghaani had visited Iranian troops in the area and had spoken out against Israel and the US.
Ghaani took over as the head of the hard-line paramilitary force earlier this year following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.
During the visit, Ghaani accused Israel and the US of propping up the Islamic State terror group, according to Reuters.
Saturday’s raids came only days after Israeli strikes in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and the southern province of Suweida killed seven fighters, including two Syrian soldiers, according to the Observatory.
The uptick in attacks has prompted concern among Iran-backed forces in east Syria that Israeli agents may be among their ranks, the monitor said.
These forces have arrested four people on suspicion of providing intelligence to Israel, the war monitor reported on Sunday, shortly before the latest raids.
The al-Bukamal region in Syria, near Iraq, is seen as critical to Tehran’s effort to establish a land corridor from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and out to the Mediterranean Sea in order to more easily move weapons and fighters throughout the Middle East.
In May, private Israeli satellite imagery analysis firm ImageSat International released photos it said showed that Iran was constructing a new underground weapons storage facility at the Imam Ali base in the al-Bukamal region of Syria, which is believed to be run by Iranian forces.
According to the image analysis company, such tunnels are likely meant to store Iranian missiles en route to Tehran’s proxies throughout the region.
ولسا قلبي ما برد مبارح اسرائيل ضربت معمل بصل كلو ذخائر بحماه /السلميه
يعني فوق مو مخزين اسلحة لعند ربنا بمنطقه سكنية ابصر مين عاطين احداثيات الموقع والله … تسمعي صوات الولاد والصياح والدنيا عم ترج
مو احري بهيك عيشة
كل الليل تمرق سيارة اتقفط وقوم
— Maya_maguy???? (@SonaMjaaynaa) June 24, 2020
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.