Iranian media on Wednesday published photos purporting to show damage at an airbase in Syria that was allegedly bombed by Israel earlier this week.
The images showed what appeared to be destroyed equipment inside a bomb-shattered hangar where at least 14 people, including seven Iranian military personnel, were killed.
Russia, Syria, Iran and the United States have all said Israel carried out the predawn Monday missile barrage on the T-4 Air Base near Palmyra in central Syria. Israeli officials refused to comment on the strike.
Israel is believed to have carried out numerous raids inside Syria since 2013, targeting the regime and the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.
Israel has vowed to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining advanced weapons and missiles, fearing they would be used against the Jewish state.
A Tuesday report from Israel’s Hadashot TV news, quoting what it said were numerous foreign reports, stressed that the target of the attack was not a missile shipment but, rather, some type of “advanced system” that could have complicated or undermined Israeli air superiority in the skies of Lebanon and Syria.
Channel 10 television reported that the Iranian death toll of seven may not be final.
It said Iran had lost “a significant asset” and perhaps “even an entire system” in the strike.
In a highly unusual move, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has acknowledged that “Iranian military advisers” were killed in Monday’s attack on the military airfield.
The Tasnim media outlet, which has been affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, specified that seven IRGC members were killed in the strike, including one high-ranking officer, Col. Mehdi Dehghan, who reportedly served in one of the group’s drone units.
On Tuesday, a top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened Israel.
“The crimes will not remain unanswered,” Ali Akbar Velayati said during a visit to Syria, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Israeli officials did not appear to be taking the threat of a retaliatory attack lightly — either by Iran, or its proxy, the Hezbollah terrorist group, remaining on high alert in the north.
Israel conducted an airstrike against the T-4, also known as Tiyas, base on February 10, after an Iranian operator working out of it flew an Iranian-made drone into Israeli territory, according to the army. That incursion sparked a series of aerial clashes that resulted in the Iranian aircraft being shot down, an Israeli F-16I getting hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire and crashing in a field, and a significant percentage of Syria’s air defenses being destroyed in retaliation.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.