BEIRUT (AP) – A rocket attack on government outposts in northern Syria killed more than a dozen government-loyal combatants, many of whom Iranians, a war observers group and an Iranian news agency said on Monday. The strikes took place amid growing tensions between the regional archenemies Israel and Iran.
The Syrian state television called it a "new aggression against military positions" in the provinces of Hama and Aleppo, but not specific. Activists said that there was a spectacular explosion in a weapons warehouse and military facilities where Iranian fighters are stationed. The explosion was large enough to be seen by observers as a magnitude 2.6 earthquake.
The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said 26 pro-government fighters were killed, most of them Iranians, with only four Syrians among the dead. The weapons depot is equipped with ground-to-ground missiles from Iranian militia in Hama province. Another attack near an Air Force Base in Aleppo Province, said the Observatory
It added that the death toll could rise as 60 fighters were injured and several others were missing.
Iranian media made conflicting reports News Agency said no Iranians were killed while a second said 18 were killed.
The weapons depot in Hama, known as Brigade 47, is, according to Jamil al. one of the largest bases for Iranian troops and equipment Saleh, commander in opposition Tajammu al-Ezzat rebel group. He said the province has at least five more bases where Iranians are stationed alongside Syrian-Allied militias.
The two airstrikes were near rebel areas, he added.
"It was like an earthquake, Hama," al-Saleh said by phone from Hama Province. He and the observatory said they suspected Israel was behind the attack.
The Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hezbollah's militant group and the Syrian government, said the attack was aimed at "Syrian army's important weapons depots, the army and Iran's Revolutionary Guards." The rockets used are said to be shining To have been bunker hunters.
Syrian opposition activist Mohamad Rasheed said the attacked base is located about 10 kilometers outside of Hama City, adding that the air strike has led to several explosions in the weapons depot. He added that the area is known as Maarin Mountain or Mountain 47.
Some of the exploding rockets in the weapons cache hit parts of Hama, Rasheed said, adding that residents near the base fled their homes. He said the base was run by Iranian and Iranian fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Tehran has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar Assad's troops in the seven-year civil war
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"They know if they are entering into a military conflict with Iran." He said in a meeting with workers, according to his website.
There was no immediate opinion from Israel that rarely confirms or denies their attacks.
The attack came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President The White House said they discussed the threats and challenges facing the Middle East, "especially the problems created by the destabilizing activities of the Iranian regime n. "
U.S. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reinforced the rhetoric of the Trump government against Iran and offered assistance to Israel and Saudi Arabia in their dispute with Tehran.
"We remain concerned about the dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region and Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East remains," Pompeo said after meeting Sunday with Netanyahu during his first overseas trip as the highest US diplomat. "The United States is in this fight with Israel."
Israel cites the hostile rhetoric of Iran, the support of anti-Israeli militant groups, and the development of long-range missiles.
Iranian state television reported on the attack and quoted the Syrian media
The semi-official Iranian news agency Tasnim, believed to be close to the Revolutionary Guard, denied that Iranian fighters were killed or Iranian-run bases were hit. She cited an unidentified Iranian informed official in her report, but did not elaborate.
Another semi-official news agency, ISNA, said the strike killed 18 Iranians, including a commander, in a suburb of central Hama. It quotes "local sources and activists". ISNA said the missiles aimed at buildings and centers that probably contained a weapons cache.
The Syrian state newspaper "Tischrin" quoted "local sources" as saying that the attack in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama consists of nine ballistic missiles fired from US-British bases in northern Jordan. The report could not be confirmed independently.
A member of one of the Iran-backed militias has posted on Facebook that the strikes have "hit our bases," where "allies" are also present. He did not explain, but Israel was suspected of being behind the attack.
"We have been expecting an Israeli embassy for some time to engage Iran in direct confrontation with Israel on Syrian territory," Kamal Fayyadh said. a Lebanese living in Syria wrote on his Facebook page
Netanyahu has scheduled a special meeting of his security cabinet and planned a nationwide televised address for later Monday to focus on a "significant development" in the context of the international nuclear deal Iran said in its office:
Trump has set a deadline of 12 May to decide whether or not to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear program – something he seems to be dealing with despite strong pressure from European and other parties Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, director of Tel Aviv University's National Security Studies Institute, said Iran's strong military presence in Syria and Israel's determination to prevent it have brought them into collision at a time the tensions over the nuclear deal, the Palestinian protests in Gaza and the e awaited US embassy move to Jerusalem.
Tensions between Iran and Israel were high after an airstrike earlier this month on Syria's T4 airbase in Homs province, killing seven Iranian military personnel. Tehran has vowed to avenge this attack.
Syria, Iran and Russia accused Israel of this attack. Israel did not confirm or deny it.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview published Thursday that his country would beat Iran if it attacked.
Associated Press writes Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran and Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem contributed to it.