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The New Arab

Suspected Israeli strikes kill 7 Iran-backed fighters in eastern Syria

Pro-government Iranian militias have been struck several times in Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 May, 2020

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At least 7 Iranian-backed fighters were killed in eastern Syria overnight, a monitor said, in what is suspected to be Israeli strikes.
Late-night strikes on a position held by Iranian militias and their allies in eastern Syria killed seven fighters, a war monitor said on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the strikes on "a base" controlled by Iranian forces and their proxies near the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Albu Kamal on Saturday night, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"The attack killed seven Iran-backed paramilitary fighters," the monitor said, also reporting material damage.

The Observatory added that military reinforcements for Iranian militias and their allies had arrived to the area days before the attack.

Iranian-backed militias and their allies command a significant presence in eastern Syria south of the Euphrates Valley.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011, targeting government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah.

Read also: Foreign hands in Syria's war creating new problems for Assad

It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria, but says Iran's presence in support of President Bashar al-Assad is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

Earlier this month, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said, "Iran has nothing to do in Syria... (and) we won't stop before they leave Syria."

Bennett accused Iran of "trying to establish itself on the border with Israel to threaten Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa".

On May 5, strikes on positions held by Iran-backed militias and their allies in eastern Syria killed 14 fighters.

It was not immediately clear who carried out those strikes in the desert near the town of Mayadin, which came minutes after Syrian air defences intercepted Israeli strikes over the north of the country, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group said it was not responsible for the strikes.

Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman said it was "likely" that Israel mounted the operation, which killed several Iraqi as well as Iranian fighters.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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