According to foreign reports, at least 30 people killed, many more wounded and dozens of targets belonging to Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias were completely destroyed.
By TZVI JOFFRE
Alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted dozens of sites in the Deir Ezzor region of eastern Syria and in Albukamal near the Syria-Iraq border on Tuesday night.
The strikes targeted dozens of warehouses and sites belonging to pro-Iranian militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) throughout the area, according to local news source Deir Ezzor 24.
While Syrian state media and Iranian media have refrained from reporting on casualties, large numbers of ambulances were reported in the area soon after the strike. Independent reports on the number of casualties ranged between 25 and over 50.
The Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news cited a security source in Baghad who stated that no casualties were caused as the sites that were targeted were evacuated beforehand, but reported as well that ambulances rushed to the scene to transport people who were wounded in the strikes.
Regional media described the strikes as some of the largest and most intense strikes in eastern Syria in recent years.
Images from the area showed a number of buildings completely destroyed after the strikes.
According to the Step News Agency, strikes by unidentified aircraft, believed to be affiliated with the international coalition, targeted sites belonging to the IRGC in Albukamal as well on Tuesday.
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.
The strikes were based on intelligence provided by the United States and were aimed at warehouses storing Iranian weapons and components for Iran’s nuclear program, an American intelligence source told the Associated Press on Wednesday morning.
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 in Washington DC.
INSS Director-General and former Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin tweeted that the strikes on Tuesday night served as a reminder to Iran that Israel will not stop fighting to stop Iranian activity in Syria, even during the Biden Administration.
The strikes also served to remind Syria that “there is a heavy price for the free hand you give to the Iranians in Syria” and to remind the incoming Biden Administration that the challenge from Iran includes conventional military threats, not just the nuclear issue, added Yadlin.
While it remains unclear if the strikes had any direct connection to threats by Iran to retaliate against assassinations and attacks blamed on Israel, Yadlin stressed that, in any case, “in light of the results of the significant strike [on Tuesday night], Iran’s ‘open account’ with Israel will swell.”
This is the third alleged Israeli airstrike reported in Syria in the past three weeks.
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.
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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 Qassem Soleimani and officials threatened to conduct revenge attacks on American and Israeli targets in the region.
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