ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 147

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Nine pro-regime fighters reported killed in overnight Syria strikes

Israel blamed for attack on Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert that killed three Syrians and six foreigners, including Hezbollah members, war monitor says

Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, wears a mask to help protect from the coronavirus, as he speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also wore a mask and gloves, in Damascus, Syria, April. 20, 2020. (SANA via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, wears a mask to help protect from the coronavirus, as he speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also wore a mask and gloves, in Damascus, Syria, April. 20, 2020. (SANA via AP)

Reported Israeli airstrikes late Monday near the central Syrian city of Palmyra killed nine fighters loyal to the Iran-backed Damascus regime, a war monitor said Tuesday.

Those who died in several missile strikes included three Syrians and six foreigners of unknown nationalities, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It said the dead included some fighters loyal to Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

The group said the targets were “military posts for Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert.”

On Monday night, Syrian state media reported that air defenses were activated against Israeli missiles over the ancient city of Palmyra in the Homs province.

The reports claimed missiles were shot down.

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

“Air defenses confronted an Israeli aggression over Palmyra and intercepted several hostile missiles,” SANA said. The missiles were downed before they could hit their targets, it added.

Syria media regularly claims alleged Israeli strikes fail to hit their targets, though those assertions are questionable.

Jerusalem says Iran’s presence in Syria, where it is fighting in support of President Bashar Assad, is a threat, as Tehran seeks to establish a permanent foothold along Israel’s northern borders.

The latest alleged attack came only hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Assad in Damascus to discuss regional developments in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

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