21 dead in Israeli airstrikes on Syria, mostly Iranians

Most of the fatalities in the latest Israeli airstrikes on Syria are reported to have been Iranians.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

The death toll from Israel’s latest airstrikes on military targets in Syria rose from 11 to 21, according to a war monitor, as cited by the AFP news agency Tuesday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that most of those killed were Iranians.

The monitor said that strikes carried out late Sunday and early Monday hit several positions and assets held by Iran and its allies in Syria.

“There are 15 [non-Syrian] foreigners among the dead, including 12 from the Iranian forces. Six Syrians from the regime were also killed,” the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

Israel said that it stepped up its latest air barrage after an Iranian-made surface-to-surface missile was fired at Israel from Syria by members of Iranian Quds Force on Sunday even as skiers watched from below at the Mount Hermon resort on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. The Israeli Iron Dome defense system intercepted the incoming missile.

The missile attack was itself a reprisal for a previous Israeli airstrike on the area near Damascus airport targeting Iranian military supplies.

The IDF said that the targets hit included Syrian-operated air defense systems and Iranian munitions depots, an intelligence site, and an Iranian-operated military training camp.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it will continue to target positions in Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

However, this recent flare-up is seen as the most serious in many months, as previous responses from Syrian territory have been aimed at air force jets and not ground targets within Israel.

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis insisted that the launch of the Iranian surface-to-surface missile clearly had been prepared months in advance and that the Iranians exploited the current military escalation to act now.

“This is not the sort of missile that is fired spontaneously. It takes time, as they required special permits and deployment of weapons,” he said. “They took advantage of the opportunity to launch it toward the northern Golan Heights where there are both civilian and military targets.”

These latest military actions have been matched by a war-of-words. Iran’s air force commander said Tehran was prepared for a decisive war to destroy Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered that the Israel Air Force had “delivered powerful blows” to Iran and would not allow Tehran to entrench itself in Syria and continue to threaten Israel.