Syrian militias promise retaliation for Israeli airstrike

The Syrian Defense Ministry issued a statement on Thursday saying one of its soldiers had been killed in an Israeli missile strike against a telecommunications tower in the central province of Homs in Syria.

Three other soldiers were injured during the strike, which took place around midnight. Although the Syrian air defenses were activated to stop the incoming missiles, they could not.

The airstrike was reportedly directed against Iranian-backed Syrian groups, some of whom have taken up positions along the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, which border southwestern Syria. Israel has identified these groups as a critical terrorist threat against the Jewish state.

After the strike, an Iran-backed group in Syria issued a statement acknowledging its base had been hit and promising a “tough response” against Israel and the United States, which it also accused of supporting the attack.

While the target of the airstrike has not been identified by the Iranian militia or the Syrian government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British NGO that monitors the conflict, said the target was a air base nicknamed “T4” which housed the Iranian militia. .

In keeping with its usual policy of refusing to confirm or deny its activities in Syria, Israel has not commented on the strike. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tel Aviv has launched hundreds of strikes inside Syria, both against forces allied to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and against the Islamic State terrorist group.

However, although these strikes have been going on for nearly a decade, they have intensified in recent months as the Assad regime has tightened its control over Syria. Another strike on October 8 targeted the same area, injuring six Syrian soldiers.

Assad, a member of Syria’s Shia Alawite ethnic minority, has enjoyed considerable support from Shia Iran throughout the decade-long conflict in the country. In addition to political and financial support, Tehran urged Hezbollah, its powerful militia client in Lebanon, to join the war alongside Assad. It also sent hundreds of commanders from the country’s Quds Force, which conducts military activities outside Iran, to Syria to help train and equip various groups of militias allied with Iran.

The Quds Force locations have long been the main target of Israeli strikes, and a series of intensified clashes occurred in 2018 after Iranian militias fired rockets into the Golan Heights.

Trevor Filseth is a current affairs and foreign affairs writer for the National interest.

Image: Reuters

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