Hezbollah men, including commander, said killed in Syria strike blamed on Israel

Source: Hezbollah men, including commander, said killed in Syria strike blamed on Israel | The Times of Israel

Attack reportedly wrecks operational coordination center near Al-Qusayr, close to where munitions depot belonging to group was destroyed in a raid on Thursday

The al-Qusayr military air base in western Syria. (Google Earth)

The al-Qusayr military air base in western Syria. (Google Earth)

A senior commander and other members of the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group were killed overnight in an Israeli airstrike, Sky’s Arabic-language channel reported Tuesday.

The strikes reportedly took place near the Syrian town of Al-Qusayr in the Homs district, close to the Lebanese border.

There was no Israeli comment on the report.

It cited sources saying the strikes destroyed a coordination center for operations and set fire to various places.

On Thursday, airstrikes attributed to the IDF destroyed Hezbollah munitions depots at the al-Qusayr airbase, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

“Six missiles were fired at the Daba’a military airport and surrounding area in the western sector of Homs province, targeting Lebanese Hezbollah weapons warehouses,” Rami Abd el-Rahman, director of the Observatory, told AFP, adding, “The missiles would have been fired by Israel.”

Daba’a is another name for the al-Qusayr airbase, and the surrounding area is known to be a stronghold for Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias. It was also reportedly struck by Israel in a raid during an exchange with Syrian and Iranian forces on May 10.

The raid came after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s al-Quds Force launched 32 rockets at Israel’s forward defensive line on the Golan Heights border.

Israel and Iran have been waging a quiet war in Syria for several years.

A map of Syria, provided to Israeli media, April 17, 2018, shows the approximate locations of five bases that Israel believes to be controlled by Iran. These are Damascus International Airport; the Sayqal air base; the T-4 air base; an airfield near Aleppo; and a base in Deir Ezzor. Their exact locations on the map are not entirely accurate. The Sayqal base, for instance, is located east of Damascus, not south of it as it appears on the map.

Israel maintains that it will take military action to stop Tehran from entrenching itself in Syria.

On Monday, the Haaretz newspaper reported that Russia was considering trying to keep Iranian forces and their allies away from the border, fearing that repeated Israeli strikes could undermine Syrian President Bashar Assad’s grip on the country.

According to the report, Russia decided to work on a deal to remove the Iranian troops following the heavy Israeli attack on Iranian targets in Syria on May 10.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out several aerial raids on Iranian targets in Syria, and suspected of carrying out several more.

Tensions between Israel and Iran in Syria have stepped up considerably in recent months, beginning in February when an Iranian drone carrying explosives was flown from the T-4 air base in central Syria into Israeli airspace and was shot down by an IAF helicopter.

Israel conducted a series of reprisal raids, first against the air base and then against Syrian air defenses, which had fired on the Israeli jets and shot down one F-16.

Much of the Iranian infrastructure is set up on Syrian bases and Israel has also frequently hit Syrian air defenses during strikes on Iranian targets.

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