Claimed image of an Israeli airstrike on al-Bukamal, in eastern Syria near the Iraq border, January 13, 2021
UPDATE, JAN 14:
The claimed death toll from Wednesday’s Israeli strikes on Iranian positions in eastern Syria has risen to 57.
Local sources say the casualties include 14 Assad regime troops, 16 Iran-supported Iraqi militiamen, and 11 Afghan members of the Iran-led Fatimid Brigade.
Sources said the Fatimid Brigade had transported Iranian-manufactured weapons across the Iraq border in recent days.
Without acknowledging the casualties, the Assad regime’s Foreign Ministry claimed “flagrant Israeli aggression” was coordinated with the “criminal practices” of the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
The regime, proclaiming that it will “retake every inch” of Syria, is pressing for an end to the Kurdish autonomous administration in the northeast.
Using the blog Al Masdar, the regime’s military said one of its troops was killed and 12 wounded.
The military official said several pro-Assad militiamen were also slain, but insisted that “claims about the Iranian casualties are nothing more than rumors spread by opposition activists”.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, JAN 13: Local sources say Israeli warplanes have struck Iranian positions in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, killing at least 15 pro-Assad fighters.
Assad regime media confirmed the strikes after midnight, saying an assessment of damage and casualties is being carried out.
The Israel Defense Forces, following standard practice, made no comment.
The missile attack was the fourth by Israel against Iranian and regime targets in the past two weeks, including a strike on an Iranian base west of Damascus last Wednesday.
On Christmas Daym the Israelis struck the Assad regime’s main complex for development of conventional and chemical weapons, the Scientific Studies Research Center, in Masyaf in Hama Province. The attack destroyed four buildings “probably used for mixing and casting components of missile engines and warheads”.
Five days later, Israel hit multiple sites in the al-Zabadani area in western Syria, near the border with Lebanon, apparently targeting the regime’s weapons shipments to the Lebanese organization Hezbollah.
Pressuring Iran and Hezbollah
Wednesday’s targets were in the al-Bukamal area of Deir ez-Zor Province, where there are large bases for Iran-supported foreign militias.
Fatimid warehouse, Nasr Al-Irani Center on Port Saeed Street in #DeirEzZor were targeted. #Iraq-i #Hezbollah positions near #AlBukmal border area were also targeted. 5-20 deaths reported on pro-israeli media. pic.twitter.com/PrNSvWEXUt
— Ahmad (@_ahmadalhindi) January 13, 2021
Israel also sees the bases as transfer points for missiles and weapons to Iran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Throughout Syria’s 114-month conflict, Israel has regularly struck regime and Iranian positions, targeting the links with Hezbollah and pressuring Iran to withdraw its forces and the foreign militias.
Since last April, targets across the country have included Damascus International Airport, the T4 base in central Syria, and Assad regime posts in southwest Syria near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.