In 3rd attack in hours, aircraft said to strike Iranian truck on Syria-Iraq border

Unverified reports claim target was loaded with weapons and ammunition, after similar attack overnight and another strike in the morning

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: A picture taken on November 12, 2018, from al-Qaim in Iraq's border al-Anbar province shows the Syrian border city of Abu Kamal in the Deir Ezzor region. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)
Illustrative: A picture taken on November 12, 2018, from al-Qaim in Iraq's border al-Anbar province shows the Syrian border city of Abu Kamal in the Deir Ezzor region. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP)

Unverified media reports claimed Monday that unidentified aircraft struck a truck near the Syria-Iraq border, hours after a similar strike was reported overnight Sunday and a separate attack in the morning hours.

The Syrian opposition online outlet Naher Media said the truck that was hit in the city of Abu Kamal was loaded with weapons and ammunition destined for Iranian militias. The claim could not be independently verified.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor with questionable veracity and unclear funding, one person was killed in the attack Monday afternoon, bringing the toll of the three recent attacks in the area to 11.

The organization, run by a single person, has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of false reporting and inflating casualty numbers as well as inventing them wholesale.

There were no further details on the apparent attack, but images circulating online showed smoke rising from the area.

The incident came after Arab media reported Sunday night that unidentified aircraft had struck a convoy of Iranian trucks at the al-Qaim crossing on the Syria-Iraq border, where frequent Iranian military activity has been reported.

Pro-Iran factions, including Iraqi groups as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, have a major presence around the Iraq-Syria border, and are heavily deployed south and west of the Euphrates in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province. Iran is believed to frequently truck weapons to Hezbollah from Iraq and via Syria.

In a third reported drone strike Monday morning, SOHR said a pro-Iran commander was among three killed. Further details were not known. It added that the overnight strike killed seven others.

The monitor could not verify the identities of the victims.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have frayed over the past year. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

AFP contributed to this report.

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