The Syrian army responded to what it said were Israeli airstrikes in southern, central and eastern Syria in which two soldiers and five foreigners were killed, the Syrian army said late Tuesday in what military defectors and intelligence sources said was a wave of raids that targeted Iranian bases.
The alleged Israeli jets hit an army outpost in Salamiya and another in Sabura towns in Hama province only hours after missiles struck other military installations in Deir el-Zour province along the border with Iraq and in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.
Earlier, a Syrian army statement said several attacks occurred simultaneously, one at a military outpost in Kabajib, east of Deir el-Zour province, and in the vicinity of the town of Sukhna in the nearby eastern desert. A third strike hit a military installation farther south in the town of Salkhad, near the southern city of Sweida. Two soldiers reportedly died along and four were wounded. According to other reports, five foreigners were also killed in the attack.
The bases are in zones in eastern and southern Syria which Israel had hit in recent months and which are believed to have a strong presence of Iranian-backed militias.
A senior Syrian military defector and a regional intelligence source said an Iranian arms depot near the city of Salamiya was set on fire after it was repeatedly bombed while a command center in the town of Sabura run by Iranian militias was also severely damaged.
The IDF declined to comment. Israel rarely comments on such attacks in Syria. But in recent weeks, it has carried out several attacks on targets inside Syria, believed to be Iranian and proxy interests. In the past two months alone, Syria has accused Israel of carrying out at least eight air raids on its territory.
In recent months, Israeli officials have expressed concern that Iranian-backed militant Lebanese group Hezbollah is trying to establish production facilities for precision-guided missiles. Tension has also been rising along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one of the targets attacked in Hama was a weapons depot used by an Iranian-backed militia near the town of Salamiya. That strike caused loud explosions that could be heard in the area, according to the Observatory. Private Syrian radio station Sham FM said three civilians in Hama were wounded by shrapnel from the attacks but did not specify where.