Twenty-three Killed in Israeli Strikes in Syria Near Iraqi Border, Watchdog Says

Israeli airstrikes killed 23 people in eastern Syria on Wednesday in what the media described as “Israeli aggression”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as quoted by Haaretz.

The strikes hit the areas of Deir al-Zur and Abu Kamal close to Syria’s border with Iraq. The Syrian Observatory said the strikes targeted 18 sites of pro-Iranian militias. This is the latest in a series of alleged Israeli attacks on Iranian-backed sites throughout Syria, bringing the total to four rounds of aistrikes within two weeks.

Citing a military source, SANA said that the attack took place at 1:10 a.m., local time, noting that the results of the attack are currently being “verified”. Videos allegedly showing the moment of the attack were shared in social media.

Pictures that were circulated by Hezbollah showed extensive damage to warehouses. The strikes targeted a series of sites belonging to pro-Iranian militias throughout the area, according local news source Deir Ezzor 24. This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike reported in Syria in the past three weeks.

The US official, who spoke to AP anonymously, claimed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the airstrike with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen during a meeting that the two held in Washington DC this week. The two men were spotted dining on Monday at Cafe Milano.

Targets belonging to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias in the Deir Ezzor area have been repeatedly targeted by airstrikes, often reported as “unidentified aircraft,” in recent years.

Last week, an alleged Israeli airstrike targeted locations in southern Syria as explosions were heard in the skies over Damascus on Wednesday night. The strike reportedly targeted weapons depots, observation points and radar sites belonging to the Syrian military and pro-regime militias.

In December, two airstrikes targeted sites near the Lebanon-Syria border in Al-Zabadani and Masyaf.

The airstrikes come amid the last days of US President Donald Trump’s administration, with some analysts concerned that Israel and the US could try and carry out military action against Iran before the Biden administration enters the White House.

The IDF has reportedly increased air defenses in the Eilat area and remains on alert along the northern border due to concerns that Iran could carry out an attack against Israel from Lebanon, Syria or Yemen. Tensions have been high in light of an alleged Israeli airstrike last year in which a Hezbollah terrorist was killed and the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which Iranian officials accuse Israel of conducting.

Iran also recently marked the one year anniversary since the assassination of former IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and officials threatened to conduct revenge attacks on American and Israeli targets in the region.