Eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, a monitor said Wednesday.
The raid struck the area of Kisweh south of Damascus late Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
Syria’s official news agency SANA said the army had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired toward Kisweh, with state television broadcasting images of fires in the nearby area.
“The death toll of the missile strike has risen to 15 pro-regime fighters — eight from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and others not of Syrian nationality,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The monitor previously reported nine pro-regime combatants had died in the raid, without specifying their nationality.
SANA quoted a medical source saying that two civilians had died on a highway linking Damascus with the southern city of Deraa as a result of an explosion linked to “the Israeli aggression.”
Rahman said the strike targeted an “arms depot belonging to Hezbollah and the Iranians.”
The alleged Israeli strike came hours after the Israeli military said it had identified “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria” and called for local governments in the Golan Heights to open their bomb shelters.
Videos from the scene, which were posted on social media, showed the moment of the strike’s impact and its aftermath. Surveillance footage showed a blast of white light as the bombs hit, followed by what appeared to be secondary explosions, supporting the claim that the targets of the strike were missiles. Cellphone videos also showed trucks burning and fires raging in the direction of the alleged Iranian base.
It is not the first time that Kisweh has been targeted. In December, Israel reportedly bombed military positions in the area south of Damascus, including a weapons depot.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group backing it inside the country.
On April 29, missile strikes — “probably Israeli” — fired on regime military positions killed at least 26 mostly Iranian fighters, according to the Observatory.
On April 9, missiles targeted the T-4 air base in the central province of Homs, killing up to 14 fighters, including seven Iranians, two days after an alleged chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime.
Damascus accused Israel of carrying out the strike.
The army on Tuesday night did not instruct residents of the Golan Heights to enter bomb shelters, only for local authorities to open public ones in case of emergency.
A number of reservists were also called up, the army said. An IDF spokesperson would not elaborate on which units they came from, but media reports indicated they served in air defense, intelligence and Home Front Command units.
The Israel Defense Forces said it deployed missile defense batteries in northern Israel and “there is high preparedness of IDF troops for an attack.”
The military called on residents to listen to security instructions as needed.
Earlier on Tuesday, the US embassy in Israel also prohibited American government employees from visiting the Golan Heights without approval in light of the security situation on the border.
“The IDF is ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios and warns that any action against Israel will be answered with a fierce retaliation,” the army said.
On Sunday night, Israeli defense officials warned that Iran was planning to retaliate for recent deadly airstrikes in Syria, which have been attributed to the Jewish state, by having its proxies fire missiles at military targets in northern Israel sometime in the near future.
Security forces were also preparing for the possibility of attempted infiltrations of military bases and communities in the north, Hadashot TV news reported on Monday.
Tehran vowed revenge after the T-4 army base in Syria was struck in an air raid on April 9, killing at least seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The strike was widely attributed to Israel, though Jerusalem refused to comment on it. (T-4 was the base from which Israel said Iran launched an attack drone into Israel in February.) Late last month, a second strike, allegedly conducted by Israel, against an Iranian-controlled base in northern Syria was said to have killed more than two dozen Iranian soldiers.
Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.