Syria said Israel bombed Iranian-backed militia bases near the Iraqi border in the early hours of Wednesday, with military defectors and Western intelligence sources describing the raid as one of Israel’s most extensive in recent months.
Earlier Syrian news agency SANA and state media said Israel had struck sites in Al Bukamal, a border town on the Euphrates river which lies on a major supply route, as well as areas in the province and city of Deir al Zor, where the militias have a heavy presence.
There was no immediate comment from an Israeli military spokesman but Israel’s Defence Force Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said last month the missile strikes had “slowed down Iran’s entrenchment in Syria”.
Israel says its goal was to end Tehran’s military presence which Western intelligence sources say has expanded in recent years in the war-torn country.
The sources said the raids focused on Al Bukamal, which lies on the most important land route for deliveries of Iranian weapons and fighters into Syria, and ranged in territory from the east of Deir Zor province to the city of al Mayadeen, the provincial capital, in the vicinity of its airport.
Iran’s proxy militias led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah now hold sway over vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria, as well as several suburbs around Damascus. They also control Lebanese-Syrian border areas.