East Syria air raids kill 12 pro-Iran fighters: monitor

East Syria air raids kill 12 pro-Iran fighters: monitor
2 min read
Unidentified aircraft on Saturday struck pro-Iranian fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, killing 12 fighters.
Israel has struck Syria hundreds of times in recent years [Getty]
At least 12 pro-Iranian fighters died in strikes by unidentified aircraft on eastern Syria late on Saturday evening, a war monitor said. 

"Eight air strikes before midnight on Saturday night targeted a base of pro-Iranian forces in rural eastern Deir al-Zour (province), killing 12 Iraqi and Afghan fighters and destroying equipment and ammunition," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory did not identify the aircraft responsible, but its head Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP that Israel was likely responsible.

The Jewish state has carried out hundreds of strikes targeting regime and Iranian-backed forces, notably in Deir al-Zour.

The Israeli military rarely claims responsibility for such attacks but has vowed to prevent Iran gaining a foothold in the war-torn country or delivering advanced weaponry to Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.

Iranian and Iraqi armed groups backing the regime of Bashar Al-Assad have deployed across swathes of Deir al-Zour, a large desert province bordering on Iraq. 

The Observatory said the latest strikes came after Afghan forces brought in reinforcements from near the Iraqi border to a large Iranian base near the town of Al-Mayadin on the Euphrates river.

Two waves of similar strikes in May killed 12 pro-Iranian fighters, according to the Observatory.

More recently, at least nine fighters loyal to the Syrian regime, including four Syrians, were killed during Israeli air raids late Thursday in the Hama province, a central region controlled by the Syrian army and Iranians, according to the monitor.

Residents in neighboring Lebanon reported hearing the Israeli warplanes flying at low altitude over parts of the Mediterranean country, according to AP.

Syrian forces fired anti-aircraft systems in response to the deadly attack in Hama, the Observatory reported. There were explosions and an unspecified number of casualties in the Masyaf area, after the Israeli air raid against regime positions, the group reported.

"The area is under the Syrian army's control and Iranians are present there," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

He said the target was a factory and research centre producing short-range surface-to-surface rockets.

Read more: Israeli tanks cross over Lebanese 'Blue Line' border fence 'for first time since 2006 war'

"Our air defence systems responded to an Israeli attack over Masyaf in rural Hama," state news agency SANA reported.

Syria has accused Israel of carrying out at least seven airstrikes in the past two months alone, believed to have targeted Iranian and proxy interests.

Syria's complex, almost decade-long war has killed over 380,000 people, devastated the country's infrastructure and forced millions of people to flee their homes.

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