Iranian sources denied Monday that it had sustained any damages in Sunday night’s attack on army bases in central Syria. The sources, quoted in Israeli media based on reports in Iranian media, said that the bases hit Sunday night were not Iranian, and that no Iranian personnel were killed. Earlier, the Iranian ISNA news agency said that 18 Iranians had been killed in the attack.
Lebanese media reports quoted in Haaretz said that the targeted bases, located near the central Syrian town of Hama and the northern city of Aleppo, were used by Iran and by Syrian forces. The report said that the attack targeted weapons storage units, and that the attack included hits by bunker-buster missiles. While some Syrian media outlets immediately blamed Israel, the government – and Iran – did not immediately blame Israel, as the United States is known to have such missiles in areas of Syria that are under control of Kurdish forces, who are known to work with American advisers, Yediot Acharonot said. Haaretz quoted the social media page of Syrian newspaper Tishrin, which said that the attack consisted of nine missiles fired from bases in Jordan controlled by American and British sources.
Syria-based opposition media activist Mohamad Rasheed said that base that came under attack is about 7 miles outside the city of Hama adding that airstrike led to several explosions in the arms depot. He added that the area is known as the Maarin Mountain or Mountain 47.
Rasheed said that some of the exploding missiles in the arms depot struck parts of Hama adding 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.
Opposition groups in Syria said that 38 Syrian soldiers were killed and 57 injured in the attack, and that the targeted bases belonged to the Syrian Army’s Brigade 47, which includes Iranian military units.
A short time after the attack early Monday, Syrian media reported that the country had been hit by a minor earthquake, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, according to European seismologists. According to the report, the earthquake was a good indication that bunker-buster missiles that attacked underground targets were used.
The attack came hours after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu talked to President Donald Trump on the phone. The White House said the two leaders discussed the continuing threats and challenges facing the Middle East, “especially the problems posed by the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities.” On Sunday, Netanyahu met with new U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
After the meeting, Pompeo said that the U.S. “remains deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats toward Israel and the region.” Strong ties with Israel, he added, are “critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world.”