Suspected Israeli Missile Attack on Army Base Kills More Than 20 Pro-Government Fighters
At least 26 pro-government fighters, including a number of Iranians, were killed in a missile attack on a Syrian army base in northern Syria late Sunday, the Associated Press reported.
The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel appears to be behind the attack that targeted an arms depot for surface-to-surface missiles at the Brigade 47 base, the AP said.
The base is located about 7 miles (10km) outside the city of Hama, the AP said, citing an opposition media activist.
Israel has not confirmed or denied responsibility.
Mostly Iranians were killed in the attack but at least four Syrians were also among the casualties, the war monitor said. Iranian media said the strikes killed at least 18 Iranians, including a commander.
An additional 60 fighters were also wounded and several others were reported missing, the SOHR said, according to the AP.
It was not immediately clear whether the Brigade 47 base was the only target of Sunday’s attack.
The Syrian army on Sunday said the attack had struck several military bases in the Hama and Aleppo countryside, according to Reuters. Citing an unidentified “intelligence source,” Reuters said that “multiple missile strikes hit several command centers for Iranian-backed militias.”
Sunday’s strike is the second suspected Israeli strike on Syrian military positions this month. Earlier this month, a suspected Israeli attack on the T4 airbase in Homs province killed seven Iranian military personnel. Israel has not confirmed responsibility for the attack but Russia and Damascus have held Tel Aviv responsible.
Syrian Government Steps Up Attacks on Homs, Secures Evacuation Deals South of Damascus
The Syrian army launched an intense bombardment campaign on a rebel enclave near Homs on Monday, Reuters reported, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Airstrikes and artillery attacks targeted an opposition-held pocket between Homs and Hama, which includes the town of Rastan, the largest in the area, Reuters said.
The Syrian government dispatched reinforcements to nearby government-held areas prior to the attack.
The current campaign against the rebel enclave is part of a wider government effort to reclaim parts of Syria that remain outside government control. It coincides with intense military operations south of Damascus, targeting the so-called Islamic State, al-Qaida-linked militants and other rebel groups who command separate pockets in the area.
ISIS-held areas in the Yarmouk camp and Hajar al-Aswad district came under fierce government bombardment on Sunday in an attempt to force militants to surrender their last pocket near the Syrian capital.
Syrian state media said on Sunday that the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by al-Qaida’s former affiliate in Syria, had agreed to withdraw from its positions in Yarmouk to rebel-held areas north of the country, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, rebel groups in the nearby suburbs of Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem also agreed to an evacuation agreement on Sunday, according to Agence France-Presse.
Citing the SOHR, AFP said that at least 85 pro-government fighters and 74 ISIS militants have been killed in 10 days of fighting in southern Damascus.
The complete evacuation of ISIS militants and rebel groups from the Yarmouk camp and nearby areas would consolidate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s hold over the entire Damascus region.
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