Monitor: 5 pro-Iran fighters killed in Syria strike blamed on Israel
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Monitor: 5 pro-Iran fighters killed in Syria strike blamed on Israel

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says pre-dawn Sunday bombing hit three trucks belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary fighters near the Iraqi border

Illustrative: People stand near a car that was damaged due to flying debris from a Syrian military base housing a weapons warehouse, in the country's central province of Homs, Syria, May 1, 2020. (SANA, the Syrian official news agency, via AP)
Illustrative: An explosion seen near the city of Homs in Syria attributed to Israeli airstrikes on March 5, 2020 (video screen capture)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — An airstrike in eastern Syria on Sunday killed five non-Syrian fighters backed by Iran, a Britain-based war monitor said.

The strike targeted three military vehicles belonging to Iran-backed paramilitary fighters near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The monitor did not say who was behind the attack near the border town of Albu Kamal.

But Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said that “Israel was likely responsible.”

Earlier, Sky News Arabia reported that unidentified aircraft carried out a pre-dawn bombing and also said that the targets were Tehran-linked forces.

The website did not identify who was behind the reported airstrike nor did it provide information on what specifically was hit in the attack.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria, but says Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar Assad is a threat and has vowed to continue its strikes.

Iranian-backed militias and their allies command a significant presence in eastern Syria south of the Euphrates Valley.

Earlier this month, air strikes on a base controlled by Iran-backed forces near Albu Kamal killed seven fighters, according to the Observatory.

The monitor said that military reinforcements for Iranian militias and their allies had arrived in the area days before.

Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist from Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour province, confirmed at the time that a strike hit Iran-backed Iraqi fighters in the area, but had no exact word on casualties.

Israel did not immediately comment on the attack.

Israel, as a rule, does not comment on specific airstrikes, but does generally acknowledge carrying out attack inside Syria against Iranian forces and Iranian proxy militias.

There have been several reports of suspected Israeli strikes inside Syria in the past month, including one on May 4 that left 14 Iranian-backed fighters dead, according to the Observatory.

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