Beirut: Israeli warplanes carried out intense airstrikes on eastern Syria early Wednesday. The Israeli warplanes were apparently targeting positions and arms depots of Iran-backed forces. Dozens of fighters were killed or wounded, according to an opposition war monitor.
A senior US intelligence official with knowledge of the attack told this agency that the airstrikes were carried out with intelligence provided by the United States. It is indeed a rare incidence of publicized cooperation between the two countries over choosing targets in Syria. The official said the strikes targeted a series of warehouses in Syria that were being used in a pipeline to store and stage Iranian weapons.
The US official requested anonymity to speak about sensitive national security matters. He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the airstrike with Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad, at a public meeting Monday in popular Washington restaurant ‘Café Milano’ Monday.
The official said the warehouses also served as a pipeline for components that support Irans nuclear program.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said the strikes hit areas in and near the towns of Deir el-Zour, Mayadeen and Boukamal along the border with Iraq. An unnamed military official was quoted as saying Syrian air defenses responded to the incoming missiles. It gave no further details.
An opposition war monitor reported at least 18 strikes in Deir el-Zour and along the border with Iraq, saying several arms depots were hit. Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people were killed, including seven Syrians, and the rest were Iran-backed fighters. It said 28 were wounded.
“They burnt Iranian positions in Deir el-Zour,” said Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist from Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour province who runs an activist collective that reports on news in the border area. He recorded at least 16 targetted buildings, warehouses or bases for Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi militias in the towns of Boukamal, Mayadeen and Deir el-Zour.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
The Observatory said it recorded 39 Israeli strikes inside Syria in 2020 that hit 135 targets, including military posts, warehouses or vehicles. In those attacks, at least 217 people were killed, mostly Iranian-allied militiamen, according to the Observatory.