Israeli warplanes carried out intense airstrikes in eastern Syria early Wednesday, apparently targeting positions and weapons depots of Iranian-backed fighters. Dozens of fighters have been killed or wounded, according to an opposition military observer.
The Syrian state news agency SANA said the strikes covered areas in and near the cities of Deir el-Zur, Mayadin and Bukamal on the border with Iraq. He did not give more details.
An observer of the opposition war reported at least 18 strikes in Deir el-Zur, as well as on the border with Iraq, saying several weapons depots had been hit. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people had been killed, including seven Syrians, and the rest were backed by Iranian fighters. It says 28 were injured.
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A senior U.S. intelligence official who knew about the attack told the Associated Press that the airstrikes were carried out with intelligence provided by the United States and targeted a series of warehouses in Syria that are used as part of a pipeline to store and stage the attack. Iranian weapons.
The official said the warehouses also served as a pipeline for components that support Iran’s nuclear program.
“They burned Iranian positions in Deir el-Zur,” said Omar Abu Layla, a European activist from Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zur who runs an activist group that reports on the border area.
Over the years, Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-related military targets in Syria, but rarely admits or discusses such operations.
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The strikes came amid growing tensions in the region and fears that Iran could carry out attacks to avenge the assassination of one of its top commanders, General Kasem Soleimani, last year.
Israel views Iran’s fortification on its northern border as a red line and has repeatedly struck Iranian-linked weapons and convoys destined for Hezbollah.
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A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak on sensitive national security issues, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the airstrike on Tuesday with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Israel’s spy agency, at a cafe in Milan, Washington, on Monday.