Israeli Fighter Jets Attack Iranian Base in Syria

Damascus: The Russian military said on Monday that two Israeli F-15 war planes had carried out strikes on a Syrian air base near Homs on Sunday, the Interfax news agency reported. 

The Interfax news agency cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying Monday that two Israeli F-15 warplanes carried out strikes from Lebanese air space on the T-4 air base on Sunday.

“Two F-15 planes of the Israeli army hit the airbase between 03:25 am and 03:53 am Moscow time (0025 GMT and 0053 GMT) with the help of eight missiles controlled remotely from Lebanese territory, without entering Syrian air space,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

The Russian military noted that Syrian air defense systems had shot down five of the eight missiles fired.

Asked about the Russian statement, an Israeli military spokesman said he had no immediate comment. 

Israel had attacked the T4 base near Homs twice in the past, destroying an Iranian drone control center and communications systems.

Earlier, Syrian state TV reported casualties in what it called a suspected U.S. missileattack on the major air base in central Syria, close to the ancient city of Palmyra. The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that 14 people were killed, including Iranian nationals.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says most of the 14 killed were either Iranians or members of Iran-backed groups.

A Syrian military source was quoted as saying that air defenses shot down eight missiles fired at the base, where defense analysts say there are large deployments of Russian forces, and where jets fly regular sorties to strike rebel-held areas.

Al-Manar TV station of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which is fighting in Syria alongside the government forces, described the attack as an “Israeli aggression.”

Israel has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Syrian Arab Army. 

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

Over the past few years, the Israeli military has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil, in assaults slammed by Syria as attempts to boost terrorist groups who have been on the retreat in the battlefield.

The latest such attacks took place on February 20, when Israeli warplanes bombed a Syrian army facility in central Syria. The Syrian military shot down at least one Israeli F-16 returning from the bombing raid.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a “tense” phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump last week, according to two White House officials. The conversation revolved around Netanyahu’s concerns that the U.S. will withdraw from Syria and allow Israel’s enemies, Iran and its affiliate militias, to gain a further foothold in the neighboring country, said the officials.

A White House statement released following the call said Netanyahu and Trump spoke about “recent developments in the Middle East,” and that the president “reiterated the commitment of the United States to Israel’s security and the two leaders agreed to continue their close coordination on countering Iran’s malign influence and destabilizing activities.”

Trump said earlier on Sunday there would be a “big price to pay” after medical aid groups reported dozens of civilians, including many children and women, were killed by poison gas in a besieged rebel-held town.

The United States launched a cruise missile strike on a Syrian air base a year ago in response to the killing of dozens of civilians in a sarin gas attack in an opposition-held town in northwest Syria. The gas attack was blamed on Assad. The U.S. missile strike was against a Syrian air base which Washington said was used to launch the strike. 

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