Israeli attacks hit Iranian targets near Russia’s Mediterranean bases


AMMAN, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Israel on Sunday struck Iranian targets in a series of attacks near Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ancestral home region and near Russia’s main Syrian bases on the Mediterranean coast, regional intelligence services and said Syrian Military Sources.

The Syrian army earlier said three soldiers were killed and three wounded in two simultaneous Israeli attacks south of Tartous province and another on the capital Damascus. There were no details on the specific locations.

The attacks on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus hit outposts of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group in Lebanon, two Syrian military defectors familiar with the region said.

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A Syrian army officer in the Tartous coastal region told Reuters on condition of anonymity that an Iranian base near the village of Abu Afsa, south of the port city, was attacked alongside an air defense and radar station nearby.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against suspected Iranian targets in recent years, but has mostly avoided hitting the coastal provinces where Russia’s main military assets are concentrated.

The latest attacks are part of an escalation of a low-intensity conflict aimed at slowing Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, Israeli and regional military experts say.

The attacks took place near the Russian Navy’s only Mediterranean base in the port of Tartous, where Russian warships are docked, while Moscow’s largest Hmeimim airbase is also in nearby Latakia province.

Russia’s intervention alongside Iran helped turn the tide in Assad’s favor in a conflict more than a decade old.

The coastal areas are mostly inhabited by Assad’s Alawite minority, who dominate the higher levels of power in the security forces and army.

Russian forces in Syria routinely ignore Israeli airstrikes against suspected Iranian-sponsored deployments and arms transfers.

But tensions between Israel and Russia have increased over Israel’s condemnation of the Ukraine war and Russia’s investigation into a Jewish emigration agency. Continue reading

Israel said last month its military jets came under Russian anti-aircraft fire over Syria in May, but they missed their target and described the confrontation as a “single-shot incident.”

Syria blamed Israel for severe strikes at its main international airport in Damascus in June last year, which badly damaged runways and forced a multi-week halt to flights.

Israeli defense officials say the civilian airport has been regularly used by Iran to transport weapons and militias.

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Additional reporting by Nayera Abdallah; and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem. Edited by Alexander Smith, Nick Macfie and Diane Craft

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