At least 23 people have been killed and several injured in Israeli strikes in Syria near the Iraq border on Wednesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The strikes hit the areas of Deir al-Zur and Abu Kamal close to Syria's border with Iraq. The Syrian Observatory said the strikes targeted 18 sites of pro-Iranian militias.
This is the latest in a series of alleged Israeli attacks on Iranian-backed sites throughout Syria, bringing the total to four rounds of airstrikes within two weeks.
On Tuesday, Haaretz's Amos Harel reported that the Israel Defense Forces, for their part, have been on a high level of defensive alert in recent days.
He added that an aerial defense battery of Patriot missiles was deployed in Eilat, and an exceptionally large presence of fighter planes has been seen in the sky over the country, in all sectors and for a considerable portion of the day.
On January 6, an attack was reported near Al-Kiswah, west of Damascus, not far from the Syrian-Lebanese border. During the preceding 10 days, Arab media reported two additional attacks, one against Syria’s military-industrial complex (the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center) north of Damascus and one south of the capital, in the northern portion of the Syrian Golan Heights.
On Saturday, a military spokesman said missiles flying over the Golan Heights targeted several locations and air defenses downed several missiles.
Meanwhile, residents of Beirut in Lebanon reported that Israeli military jets carried out several low flying flights over the Lebanese capital overnight on Sunday.
Israel reportedly regularly violates Lebanon airspace, often to carry out strikes in neighboring Syria, but rarely comments on these reports.
Western intelligence sources say Israel's stepped up strikes on Syria in the last few months are part of a shadow war approved by the United States and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran's extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities. Source: Haaretz