Aircraft said to strike convoy of Iranian militia trucks on Syria-Iraq border

Tehran thought to use al-Qaim crossing to ship weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah; reports claim 6 of 25 trucks hit; no reports of injuries

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A fire is seen burning, puportedly at the al-Qaim crossing on the Syria-Iraq border, in unverified footage posted online, January 29, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)
A fire is seen burning, puportedly at the al-Qaim crossing on the Syria-Iraq border, in unverified footage posted online, January 29, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Unidentified aircraft struck a convoy of Iranian trucks at the al-Qaim crossing on the Syria-Iraq border, where frequent Iranian military activity has been reported, Syrian and other Arab media said Sunday night.

The Saudi-funded al-Arabiya network, citing unidentified sources, said 25 trucks had crossed the border from Iraq to Syria before the strike. According to Syria’s Sham FM radio station and other local media reports, six refrigerator trucks were hit.

Al-Arabiya said the unidentified aircraft first fired a warning shot to allow the truck drivers to leave before bombing them. The network said the al-Qaim crossing is controlled, practically speaking, by Iranian militias.

Europe-based Syrian expert Omar Abu Layla, whose news organization DeirEzzor24 maintains researchers on the ground in Syria, reported that the trucks belonged to Iranian militias, and that the strikes also targeted a meeting of Iranian commanders in the Abu Kamal area.

Unverified footage circulating online purported to show a large fire burning in the area.

Iran is believed to frequently truck weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group from Iraq and via Syria.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the strike Sunday.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

In a rare comment in December, then-IDF chief Aviv Kohavi confirmed that an airstrike in early November on a convoy carrying Iranian arms on the Syria-Iraq border was carried out by the Israeli Air Force.

Kohavi said Israeli intelligence uncovered which truck within the 25-vehicle convoy was carrying weapons from Iran to Lebanon, and “advanced capabilities” allowed the pilots to carry out a precision strike.

That strike reportedly left 10 people dead, including an unknown number of Iranians.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have frayed over the past year. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

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