May 01, 2018

Damascus and Moscow have blamed Israel for attacks on three pro-government military bases on the outskirts of Aleppo and Hama in north and northwestern Syria on April 29. Sources close to Hezbollah also believe that the Israeli Air Force carried out the strikes.

Meanwhile, some observers have suggested that Israeli naval ships in the Mediterranean Sea launched the missiles that hit the Syrian military facilities. Others, however, believe that the strike originated from U.S. and British military bases in the north of Jordan.

The missiles reportedly struck the arms depot of the 47th Brigade of the Syrian Army and the Iranian Shahab 129 drone base at Al-Nayrab military airport.

“The missile attacks against the Syrian government forces in the central province of Hama overnight killed 26 pro-regime fighters, mostly Iranians,” the Times of Israel reported. Radio Israel said that 18 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) were killed in the attack. Sources inside the Syrian opposition put the total number of dead at 38. Sky News also reported that the missile attack left 40 dead and dozens injured.

There are many IRGC units positioned with the 47th Brigade of the Syrian Army, which could explain the high number of Iranian casualties. But the pro-government and IRGC forces are not confident that it was Israel that carried out the strikes. Also, the Russian-made Syrian air-defense system failed to stop the missiles.

The strike against the Syrian military facilities was launched two days after a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the army headquarters in Tel Aviv.

On the same day, the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Army, Seyyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, and the Speaker of the Majlis (the Iranian Parliament), Ali Larijani, held a meeting. It is, however, unclear what the two discussed. 

On April 9, Israel attacked the Tiyas airbase, known as T4, near the city of Homsm killing 14 people including seven IRGC members. Israeli fighter jets reportedly struck an Iranian military base in Jabal Azzan near Aleppo on April 15, killing many IRGC fighters and injuring others.

Israeli and American intelligence agencies believe that the IRGC shipped missile parts and launchers to Syria last week to defend pro-government forces or to prepare for an attack on Israel.

Speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on April 27, Israeli Defence Minister Defense Avigdor Lieberman said: “What we will not allow is for Iranians to establish a forward base in Syria against Israel.”

Kayhan London recently published the Persian translation of Mr. Lieberman’s interview with the London-based Saudi online newspaper Elaph, in which he warned: “Any site in which we see an Iranian attempt to achieve a military foothold in Syria will be struck. We won’t let that happen, regardless of the price. The Russians know that we will not allow Iran to build bases in Syria and to transfer advanced weapons to attack us.”

Quoting an informed source, ISNA (the Iranian Students News Agency) has reported that the IRGC has denied losing any of its members in the recent attacks. “Foreign media have fabricated the story,” the source had told ISNA.

Meanwhile, supporters of the regime have posted their comments on Twitter under the hashtag “we’ll exact revenge.”

Abu [email protected] wrote: “Iranians are famous for their slow and deliberate revenge. Israel will feel our wrath. We will #get revenge #retaliate.”

Some people believe that Iran’s response should be measured and proportionate. Others, however, think that President Hassan Rouhani would not jeopardize the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, by advocating a military response. No one can explain what the IRGC forces are doing in Syria in the first place.

Aghaye_rishoo2 wrote: “The Israelis know that Iran and our cowardly president wouldn’t respond for fear of jeopardizing the JCPOA. Mr. Rouhani, 18 young people, shed their blood so you could become president. Least you can do is to honor their sacrifice. #We’ll retaliate.”

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