Nine Iran-backed fight­ers killed in 2nd raid in Syria in 24 hours

Strikes came hours after sim­i­lar raid killed 6 other Tehran-backed fight­ers, rais­ing toll to 15 killed

Arab News - - News Middle East - AFP Beirut

Airstrikes tar­get­ing po­si­tions of Iran-backed mili­tias in east­ern Syria killed nine fight­ers on Sun­day in the sec­ond such raid in 24 hours, a war mon­i­tor said.

The Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights said Is­rael was “likely re­spon­si­ble” for the strikes near the Iraqi bor­der.

They came hours after a sim­i­lar raid killed six other Tehran-backed fight­ers, rais­ing the to­tal toll to 15 killed in 24 hours, ac­cord­ing to the mon­i­tor.

The fight­ers killed in the early Sun­day raids were mostly Iraqi na­tion­als, ac­cord­ing to Ob­ser­va­tory head Rami Ab­dul Rah­man. There was no of­fi­cial com­ment from Is­rael.

Is­rael has launched hun­dreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.

It has tar­geted gov­ern­ment troops, al­lied Ira­nian forces and fight­ers from the Le­banese Shi­ite mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah.

It rarely con­firms de­tails of its op­er­a­tions in Syria, but says Iran’s pres­ence in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad is a threat and that it will con­tinue its strikes. On Satur­day, airstrikes also blamed on Is­rael hit po­si­tions be­long­ing to regime forces and Iran-backed mili­tias near the bor­der with Iraq, the Ob­ser­va­tory said.

Four Syr­ian na­tion­als were among the six fight­ers killed in that at­tack, the mon­i­tor added.

Satur­day’s raids came only days after Is­raeli strikes in the east­ern prov­ince of Deir Ez­zor and the south­ern prov­ince of Suweida killed seven fight­ers, in­clud­ing two Syr­ian sol­diers, ac­cord­ing to the Ob­ser­va­tory.

The uptick in at­tacks has prompted con­cern among Iran­backed forces in east Syria that Is­raeli agents may be among their ranks, the mon­i­tor said.

These forces have ar­rested four peo­ple on sus­pi­cion of pro­vid­ing in­tel­li­gence to Is­rael, the war mon­i­tor re­ported on Sun­day, shortly be­fore the lat­est raids.

The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 peo­ple and dis­placed more than half of the coun­try’s pre-war pop­u­la­tion since 2011.

HIGH­LIGHTS

Is­rael has launched hun­dreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.

The fight­ers killed in the early Sun­day raids were mostly Iraqi na­tion­als, ac­cord­ing to Ob­ser­va­tory head Rami Ab­dul Rah­man.

AP

The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 peo­ple and dis­placed more than half of the coun­try’s pre-war pop­u­la­tion since 2011. Airstrikes, blamed on Is­rael, hit po­si­tions be­long­ing to regime forces and Iran­backed mili­tias near the bor­der with Iraq.

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