Iran denies guardsmen were killed in Israel strike in Syria

12 Iranians were reportedly killed in airstrike last Monday; Iranian spokesman: If anybody had been killed, funerals would have been held

Illustrative: An explosion, reportedly during Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Syria, on January 21, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative: An explosion, reportedly during Israeli airstrikes near Damascus, Syria, on January 21, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

A spokesman for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has denied reports that 12 guardsmen were killed last week during an Israeli airstrike on sites in Syria, labeling them “lies,” Iranian reports said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors the violence in Syria, said that in the predawn hours of Monday last week, 21 people, 12 of them Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guardsmen, were killed in the Israeli airstrike. Six more were Syrian military fighters and the other three were other non-Syrian nationals, the Observatory said.

Last Sunday, Israel reportedly conducted a rare daylight missile attack on Iranian targets in Syria. In response, Iran fired a surface-to-surface missile from Syria at the northern Golan Heights that was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system over the Mount Hermon ski slope, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The Israeli Air Force then launched overnight retaliatory strikes on Iranian targets near Damascus and on Syrian air defense batteries that fired at the attacking Israeli fighter jets, the IDF said.

The Iranian spokesman, Ramadan Sharif, said Monday that if 12 members of the group had been killed, it would have been visible. “If there had been fatalities, we would have held funerals.”

Although he attributed the casualty figures to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, they were put forth only by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He also denied that the sites targeted in the Israeli strikes were Iranian.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russia is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Amid an ongoing war of words with senior Iranian officials, Netanyahu last week repeated a warning to Iran  not to establish bases in Syria and has vowed to “continue to fight against [Iran] as long as I am prime minister.”

On Monday, the deputy head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said that Tehran’s strategy was to eventually wipe Israel off the “global political map.”

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