The Israeli airstrikes on the night of Tuesday January 12 to Wednesday January 13 are among “The most deadly” never carried out by the Jewish state in a Syria at war since 2011, according to a non-governmental organization (NGO). At least 57 soldiers and pro-regime fighters were killed in the raids which targeted military positions in eastern Syria, according to a new assessment provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). The raids killed 14 members of the regime’s forces and 43 fighters attached to pro-Iran militias, including 16 Iraqis, OSDH reported.
Since the start of the war in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against the manpower of its sworn enemies, targeting government troops, Iranian allied forces and Hezbollah fighters. In recent weeks, bombings blamed on Israel have intensified in eastern Syria, where Iranian-sponsored foreign fighters militias are deployed in the Deir ez-Zor province, which borders Iraq.
The strikes targeted arms warehouses and military positions, particularly on the outskirts of the city of Deir ez-Zor, Al-Boukamal and Mayadin, said OSDH director Rami Abdel Rahmane. The area hosts fighters from Hezbollah and the Fatimid Division, bringing together pro-Iranian Afghan fighters, according to OSDH.
The Israeli army has still not reacted to this information.
The raids carried out during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday are “The deadliest” since strikes in June 2018 in the same province of Deir ez-Zor, according to Mr. Abdel Rahmane. At the time, 55 pro-regime fighters, Syrians and Iraqis, had been killed, he recalled.
The official Syrian agency SANA reported on nightly Israeli strikes without providing details. “At 1:10 am [heure locale, 0 h 10, heure de Paris], the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial attack against the city of Deir ez-Zor and the region of Al-Boukamal ”, SANA said, citing a military source. “The consequences of the aggression are currently being checked”, laconically added the source.
Throughout the day of Tuesday, already, unidentified planes had carried out several rounds of raids in the area of Al-Boukamal, killing 12 fighters of the pro-Iran militias, reported the OSDH, which had not immediately provided a report for these strikes.
Israel has repeatedly asserted that it will not allow neighboring Syria to become the foothold of Iranian forces. In 2020, Israel struck about 50 targets in Syria, according to an annual report published by the Israeli army. These raids represent a “Clear policy” Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in November.
The previous deadly strikes took place less than a week ago, targeting positions in southern Syria and south of the capital, Damascus, on January 7. Three pro-Iran fighters had perished by then. Observers have expressed fears that Donald Trump and Israel will increase pressure against Iran and its regional allies in the final days of the President’s tenure.
Triggered in 2011 by the brutal repression of pro-democracy protests, the war in Syria has grown in complexity over the years, involving several powers and foreign armed groups. It has claimed more than 380,000 lives and displaced millions of people.