Israeli planes said to attack Iranian military sites in Syria

Watchdog says 3 Syrians killed, 23 people wounded, including 9 Iranians; Assad’s state media claims air defenses intercepted some missiles

Smoke rises after an alleged Israeli strike near Hama, Syria, on September 4, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter)
Smoke rises after an alleged Israeli strike near Hama, Syria, on September 4, 2018. (screen capture: Twitter)

Israel carried out airstrikes against Iranian military targets in the Syrian provinces of Hama and Tartus on Tuesday, killing three people and wounding 23, a monitoring group said.

Syrian state media confirmed the Israeli attack and said one person was killed and four injured. However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three Syrian soldiers were killed and 23 people injured — 14 Syrian and nine Iranians.

The Observatory said the strike targeted Iranian assets between the town of Masyaf and Wadi al-Uyun.

The Syrian military claimed air defenses successfully intercepted several missiles launched by Israeli warplanes, though Damascus often inflates the number of missiles it intercepts.

Israel does not regularly comment on alleged strikes in Syria, though the reported attack came hours after the IDF confirmed it had carried out over 200 strikes in the country over the past 18 months.

Social media reports appeared to corroborate the location of the alleged strike.

Last Thursday, satellite photos published by an Israeli intelligence firm purported to show the establishment of an Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in the area of Wadi al-Uyun.

The photos, which were shared by ImageSat International, were said to show a facility resembling Iran’s Parchin facility, which has been linked to the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

Masyaf is also home to a Syrian scientific research center which Israel is alleged to have struck several times in recent years.

Western officials have long associated the Scientific Studies and Research Center near Masyaf, known as CERS, with the manufacture of chemical arms.

The IDF on Tuesday acknowledged that it had conducted airstrikes against over 200 Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria since 2017, shedding light on its largely quiet activities across the border to prevent Tehran from establishing a permanent military presence in the war-torn country.

For years, Israel has been concerned that Iran was using opportunities presented by the Syrian civil war to entrench itself militarily in the country in order to further threaten the Jewish state — alongside the threat already posed by Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.

Israel has vowed to prevent such a military presence, but officially remains mum on most of the military’s efforts to do so.

On Monday the Syrian Observatory said an airstrike on “a convoy of Iranian forces and allied militia” near a US base in southeastern Syria killed at least eight pro-government fighters. Four Syrians, one Iranian national and three other non-Syrian fighters were killed in the strike carried out on Saturday, the Britain-based war monitor said.

It was not clear who carried out the reported strike.

On Sunday the Observatory said a “possible Israeli missile” killed at least two members of pro-government military forces in a string of explosions at a military airport near the Syrian capital. It could not specify their nationalities or whether they belonged to militias or government forces.

A Syrian army official denied Israeli involvement, saying the blast was caused by electrical short circuit in a weapons depot.

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