IDF strike kills three Iranian fighters near Damascus, says Syria

Syrian sources claimed its air defenses intercepted an Israeli strike on a Damascus airbase used by Iran

By Associated Press

Syria’s air defenses confronted an aerial “aggression” from Israel that targeted an air base in the country’s center late Tuesday, state media reported quoting a military official.

The official quoted by the state news agency SANA said the alleged Israeli strike targeted the T-4 airbase in Homs province shortly after 10 p.m. local time. The official said the attack caused material damage to the base, claiming most rockets were intercepted while only four landed in the targeted area.

According to a Reuters report on Wednesday morning, three fighters in Iranian-backed militias were eliminated in the strike and a number of others were injured, based on information supplied by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

There was no immediate Israeli comment. Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes on Syria over the past years but it rarely comments on what it targets.

Israel is widely believed to have been behind airstrikes mainly targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria that have joined the country’s war fighting alongside the government. Iran directs a number of terror proxies throughout the region, which threaten sovereign nations and undermine the governments of host countries.

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The strike on Tuesday comes during heightened tension after the recent escalation between the U.S. and Iran, Damascus’ main ally in the region.

A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed Iran’s top general earlier in January. Gen. Qassim Soleimani was the main architect of Iran’s policy of regional aggression and was the critical to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war, supplying thousands of fighters fought alongside Syrian troops.

Known as the “Butcher of Damascus,” Assad is widely believed to have carried out chemical attacks on his own people, hundreds of thousands of whom have perished during the nation’s bloody civil war.

Russia announced late last year that it had delivered the S-300 air defense system to Syria. Russia, too, is a key ally of Assad, and its intervention in the civil war, beginning in 2015, turned the tide in his favor.