An Israeli airstrike. (illustrative) (shutterstock) shutterstock
Israeli airstrike

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More than 18 air strikes were carried out in the area extending from Deir Ezzor to the Syrian-Iraqi border in Al-Bukamal Desert.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday night conducted extensive strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Syria’s state media reported, the third such attack in a week.

SANA news reported that at “exactly 1:10 am,” the IAF carried out attacks in the city of Deir Ezzor and the Al-Bukamal area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which has assets in the country, reported that more than 18 air strikes were carried out in the area extending from Deir Ezzor city to the Syrian-Iraqi border in Al-Bukamal Desert.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Lebanese Hezbollah terror organization and the pro-Iranian and Fatemiyoun militia are stationed in these sites, and use the locations as a center for training and preparing their troops, the SOHR noted.

The SOHR further reported that at least 16 people were killed in the strikes, including five Syrians and 11 members of the Iranian militias.

Warehouses, presumably storing weapons, were also hit.

The IDF has remained silent on the reports, as it usually does.

The Al-Bukamal border crossing with Iraq was built to serve as a land bridge between Iran and Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, posing a new threat to Israel’s security.

Iran routinely attempts to arm the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization with advanced weapons. Israel has exposed and thwarted multiple attempts by Iran to transfer game-changing weapons to Hezbollah, and this new crossing could pose a new challenge to the Israeli efforts.

The new border crossing between Syria and Iraq is strategically important to Iran because the route enables Iran to send forces, supplies, and weapons through Iraq to Syria and from there to Lebanon.

The Iranians are upgrading the Al-Bukamal Crossing. In view of Iran’s strategic interest, Hezbollah and the Shi’ite militias sponsored by Iran played an important role in taking control of Al-Bukamal from the Islamic State in November 2017. The crossing was put to use immediately after it was taken over.

Israel has significantly stepped up its strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in recent weeks.

Israel has twice conducted extensive strikes in Syria against Iranian targets in the past week.

In general, Iran and Hezbollah’s military build-up in Syria remains a red line for Israel. The IAF has carried out thousands of attacks to thwart Iranian entrenchment in the war-torn country.

Israeli leaders have repeatedly declared that they will not tolerate an Iranian threat on its northern border with Syria and will take all necessary measures to ensure that such a menace does not emerge.

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