A military base in eastern Syria used by Iranian drone operators and air-defence systems has been hit by a series of missiles, in an attack Damascus blamed on Israel.
State media said one Israeli jet was hit and others “repelled” as its armed forces responded to the attack last night on the Tiyas base near Palmyra.
However reports from the ground said that a number of soldiers at the base, either from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or allied militias, were killed. The regime confirmed damage to the base.
There was no comment from Israel but nor were there any reports of Israeli planes having been brought down.
Tiyas, also known as T4, is a key way-station for Iranian advisers operating in Syria and for the co-ordination of loyal militias, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah. Russia also operates at Tiyas but its facilities are separate to Iran’s and have never been targeted by Israel.
Tiyas was previously hit in February after an Iranian-operated drone entered Israeli airspace, and in April, when the target was reportedly a recently delivered advanced anti-aircraft system.
On the latter occasion, the Iranian authorities made a rare admission that seven of its men, including an officer, had been killed, and they took revenge in an attempted missile attack on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights in May.
It is not clear what prompted the attack last night. The Syrian regime is currently besieging and negotiating a surrender agreement for a major rebel enclave in southwestern Syria on the border with Jordan and the Golan.
Israel has demanded from Russia guarantees that Hezbollah and other Iranian-aligned forces will be kept away from the border. However, it is not clear whether Russia has accepted that or been able to force agreement from either Iran or the Syrian regime.
Israel has not objected in principle to Damascus resuming control of the border but has said that it will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria, and particularly not in the border area. This latest raid may have been a message to show Israel’s seriousness.
The Syrian army was laying siege to the rebel-held part of the city at the heart of the enclave, Daraa, this morning. Under a deal announced over the weekend rebels agreed either to surrender or to be transferred to the last major rebel pocket, in Idlib to the northwest but that deal has yet to be implemented.
The United Nations said that an informal encampment on the Jordan border of 60,000 people fleeing the latest bout of fighting and aerial bombardment had dispersed after the area fell to regime troops. However, hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced elsewhere.
With many thanks to: The Times and The Sunday Times for the original story.