Mysterious missile strikes hit military bases in Syria
Between 26 and 40 people killed and up to 58 wounded in strikes on suspected Iranian bases in Hama and Aleppo, reports say • Hezbollah blames Israel while Syrian media outlets say U.S. and U.K. behind attacks • Some Syrian rebel forces also claim attacks.
News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Missile strikes targeted suspected Iranian military bases in the Syrian provinces of Hama and Aleppo late Sunday, Syrian state media reported Monday. Reports of casualties varied, with between 26 and 40 people said to have been killed and up to 58 wounded.
Massive explosions were recorded at both sites and the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said the blasts caused a 2.6-magnitude earthquake in the area.
A military official told the Syrian Arab News Agency that “Syria is being exposed to a new aggression, with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets.”
Authorities are working to “determine the cause of the explosions,” he said.
The Iranian Students News Agency initially confirmed that 18 of its soldiers had been killed in the strikes, but Iran’s Tasnim news agency later denied this, saying claims that Iranian bases in Syria had been hit were baseless and that no Iranians had been killed.
“All these reports over an attack on an Iranian military base in Syria and the martyrdom of several Iranian military advisers in Syria are baseless,” an unnamed source told Tasnim.
According to the Orient news outlet, which is affiliated with the Syrian rebels, some Syrian Democratic Force rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, affiliated with the Hezbollah terrorist group, reported that the nature of the raid indicates that Israel was behind it.
The report said the strikes involved bunker-buster missiles, making it likely they were airborne. It was these missiles that caused a local earthquake, the report said.
“We don’t comment on foreign reports and we have no information at this time,” Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said.
However, Israel’s Diplomatic-Security Cabinet convened an emergency meeting Monday to discuss the incident.
Earlier this month, a Syrian air base near Homs was hit in a missile strike largely attributed to Israel, with at least four Iranian officers from the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds force killed in the strike.
According to reports, one of the Iranian casualties was a colonel who oversaw the Revolutionary Guards’ drone operations in Syria. Other reports suggested that seven or more Iranians were killed in the strike.
Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Syrian newspaper Tishreen accused the United States and Britain of the latest strike in Syria. Tishreen claimed that nine missiles were fired from American and British bases in Jordan.
The strikes are believed to have targeted the headquarters of Brigade 47, an Iran-backed Shiite militia near the village of Maarin al-Jabal, south of Hama city.
As well as being a recruitment and training facility, the base is said to be a large weapons depot, which would account for the massive blast there.
A second explosion was reported at the Iranian-backed Brigade 80 headquarters north of Aleppo city.
Orient said the Hama base was known to house Iranian militias “heavily involved” in attacks against rebel forces in the area.