Damascus/Beirut: Israeli fighter jets have struck Syria’s eastern province of Deir al-Zor, targeting Iranian military bases and locations. At least 31 terrorists from Iranian-backed groups were reportedly killed in the attack. A senior US intelligence official has claimed that some of the supplies needed for Iran’s nuclear program were being provided through the underground tunnels at the sites, which increases the significance of the incident. Meanwhile, Yossi Cohen, the head of the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo two days ago. They are said to have discussed on the Israeli airstrikes during the meeting.
Syrian news channel SANA reported that Israeli fighter jets pounded Deir ez-Zor and al-Bukamal on Wednesday morning. The news channel, affiliated with the Assad regime, declined to comment further. However, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Israeli warplanes struck at least 18 military bases in the area. It is the fourth Israeli attack on Syria in the last two weeks. Human rights groups also claim Israel carried out such large-scale attacks in Syria for the first time since 2018.
Iran’s military bases and sites are located in Deir ez-Zor and al-Bukamal. Due to its proximity to the Iraqi border, the area is used for smuggling weapons into Syria. Reports say that Israel and the US had launched attacks on the Iranian bases in the past. Nevertheless, the Israeli jets are believed to have targeted a site associated with Iran’s nuclear program in the operation on Wednesday. A US intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that the pipeline from the military base was used to supply materials for the Iranian nuclear program.
Earlier, in 2007, Israel launched airstrikes on a nuclear power plant that Syria was constructing in Deir ez-Zor. The attack destroyed the nuclear facility under construction. At the same time, ten North Korean scientists are also said to have been killed. The Israeli and Syrian media had reported the story. Israel, however, confessed to having carried out the attacks ten years later. US intelligence agency had allegedly provided information to Israel for Wednesday’s attacks.
Two days ago, US Secretary of State Pompeo and Mossad chief Cohen met at an event held at Cafe Milano in Washington DC. The official asserted that they discussed the Deir ez-Zor attack during the meeting. A few hours before the attack, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had visited the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Syrian border.