Massive weapons cache bombed in Syria, 18 Iranians dead, Israel silent

A central military base in Syria was attacked, causing mass casualties. No one including Israel has claimed responsibility. 

By: World Israel News Staff

A large weapons depot belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was attacked on Sunday night, reportedly causing massive casualties and damage.

Reports in the Arab media say that the Syrian base in Hama province, belonging to Syria’s 47th Brigade, was attacked by missiles, causing loud explosions with flames seen from afar.

Syrian-based opposition media activist Mohamad Rasheed said that some of the exploding missiles in the arms depot struck parts of Hama and that residents in areas near the base fled their homes. He said the base has been run by Iranian and Iran-backed fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The number of casualties varies in the reports, but at least 26 soldiers were killed, with some sources citing up to 40 dead. Several of the casualties were reportedly Iranian soldiers. Iran’s ISNA news agency cited “local sources and activists” who said that the strike killed 18 Iranians, including a commander.

Syria’s official SANA news reported that a number of military sites in the countryside of Hama and Aleppo provinces were “exposed to a new aggression.” The reports did not comment on the extent of the damage caused by the attack or on casualties.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre registered a 2.6 magnitude earthquake at the site of the Hama attack, probably the result of the explosions caused by the attacked munitions.

Reuters quoted an opposition source who said that one of the locations hit was an army base near Hama city that is widely known as a recruitment center for Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias who fight alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.

‘Over 80,000 extremists in Syria under Iranian control’

On Friday, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addressed the Security Council (UNSC) and presented new information about Iran’s presence in Syria, including an aerial photo of an Iranian-run induction and recruitment center for Shia militias.

“There are over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control. What you see here in this image is Iran’s central induction and recruitment center in Syria,” Danon told the Security Council.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the attack appears to have been carried out by Israel and that it targeted an arms depot for surface-to-surface missiles.

The Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al Akhbar blamed Israel for the attack. The IDF has remained silent on the reports, as has been its conduct in most previous, similar incidents.

Israeli Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz, a member of the security cabinet, did not confirm that Israel was behind the attacks but told IDF Radio on Monday morning that “the policy is clear – we will not accept an Iranian front” in Syria.

This latest attack comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel following an airstrike earlier this month on Syria’s T4 air base that killed at least seven Iranian military personnel. Syria, Iran and Russia blamed Israel for that attack.

Israel considers Iranian military bases in Syria a “red line” and has repeatedly said it will fight to prevent Iran’s military buildup inside the war-torn country.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in an interview with the London-based Saudi news site Elaph published Thursday that “if Iran attacks Tel Aviv, Israel will strike Tehran and destroy every Iranian military site that threatens Israel in Syria, whatever the price.”