Syria has reportedly been hit with another air raid in the days since the government’s latest alleged use of chemical weapons against its own citizens. A trilateral airstrike earlier this month was led by U.S., British and French forces with the support of the other 26 NATO member nations. Days later, the Jerusalem Post cited media reports within Syria that another round of air raids were reported Tuesday morning over specific military sites.
Early Tuesday morning, the strikes were reported near the areas of Damascus, Homs and the Al-Sayrat airbase. A specific target reportedly included in the raid was Dumair airport, which is believed to be the site of Syrian and Russian military coordination. Shortly after the latest round of bombing, locals said Syria’s air defense system was engaged, launching rockets with the intent of intercepting incoming missiles.
Some strikes, including one allegedly targeting the Shayrat airbase, have since been disputed by sources online. It was also unclear which military force or forces were responsible for the latest round of bombings.
Officials at the Pentagon denied the U.S. played any role in continued Syrian air raids following Saturday’s campaign.
President Donald Trump thanked partner nations in a tweet declaring a “perfectly executed strike” just hours after it began early Saturday morning.
The Pentagon confirmed U.S. involvement in the strikes on three strategic targets. A statement indicated the mission was a “one-time shot” in direct response to the latest reports of Syrian citizens poisoned by chemical weapons.
Early social media reports, particularly from sources within Syria, suggested the Israeli military staged Tuesday morning’s strikes. Israeli forces were also linked to another Syrian airstrike on April 9, days before the U.S.-led mission and just two days after the latest alleged round of chemical weapons use.
As the U.K. Telegraph reported, recent warnings have surfaced that the earlier attack blamed on Israel, in which seven Iranians were killed at a Syrian air base, could result in retaliation against the Jewish nation. (SEE BELOW) Israel said it targeted the T4 air base as part of its ongoing effort to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent position of influence within Syria’s volatile military.
Military officials in Israel were reportedly on high alert Tuesday as a senior adviser to Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei pledged the deaths “would not stand without a response.”
Israel had specifically identified the threat of an airstrike launched out of Syria by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces.
One official confirmed that the military was focusing on the that military force as “most likely to be the designated unit that will try to wage an attack against Israel.”
Following reports of an Israeli strike on Iranian targets at Syria’s T4 airbase last Monday, Iran warned of Israel’s future destruction. The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday that Iranian Army Ground Forces commander Brig.-Gen Kiumars Heidari said Iran’s military is “much more powerful than before” and warned that “the date has been set” for Israel’s destruction, according to official news agency Mehr.
An Israeli Defense Force official confirmed Monday that Israel was behind the attack on the Iranian air base. The strike was reportedly part of Israel’s ongoing effort to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent position of influence within Syria’s military.
“Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian entrenchment on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah, from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state,” the Post reported.
The strike also followed an attempted attack from Iran on Feb. 10, “when an Iranian drone launched by a Revolutionary Guards Quds Force unit operating out of Syria’s T4 air base, east of Homs in central Syria, was shot down with a missile from an Israeli Apache helicopter that was following it after it penetrated Israeli airspace,” The New York Times reported.
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said the drone’s flight path and Israel’s intelligence analysis indicated that its mission was “an act of sabotage in Israeli territory.”
“It was the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel — not by proxy,” a senior IDF official told the Times, adding that the strike on the T-4 airbase “was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people.”
According to the Post, Iranian Gen. Heidari “taunted others in the region by saying that — unlike countries such as Saudi Arabia which imports its arms from the West — the armed forces of Iran were produced locally.”
Iranian Defense Minister Brig.- Gen. Amir Hatami had a similar message Sunday, saying that Iran had reached a point of “self sufficiency” in producing, supplying and exporting Iranian-made weapons. Iran’s military budget in 2017 was 15.9 billion, up almost 65 percent from 2014, the Post reported.
Besides Israel’s concern about Iran’s influence on Syria, it is also worried that the country is “trying to build advanced weapons factories in Lebanon in order to manufacture more accurate missiles which are GPS-guided and could hit targets within a 50 meter radius.”
In response to Heidari’s threat, a senior IDF official told Sky News in Arabic that “Israel will react strongly to any Iranian action from inside Syria.”
Israel’s strike on the Iranian targets were largely overshadowed by the United States’ strike on Syria on Friday, but as noted by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, tensions between Israel and Iran could lead to an even more dangerous conflict.
“Syria is going to explode. I know, you have heard that one before, but this time I mean really explode. Because the U.S., British and French attack on Syria to punish its regime for its vile use of chemical weapons — and Russia’s vow to respond — is actually just the second-most dangerous confrontation unfolding in that country,” Friedman wrote.
“Israel and Iran are now a hair-trigger away from going to the next level — and if that happens, the U.S. and Russia may find it difficult to stay out.”