A series of missile strikes hit Syrian military bases near Hama and Aleppo on Sunday night. According to both Syrian media and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, several dozen people representing forces loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad were killed, including a number of Iranians.
Early reports from Iranian media indicated that up to 18 Iranians were killed in the strikes, although those reports were later altered to insist that no Iranians died. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed by one strike near Hama, most of them Iranians.
“Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets,” said a source within the Syrian army quoted by Reuters.
Reuters also quoted a source within the Syrian opposition who said one of the bases hit by the attack is “widely known as a recruitment center for Iranian-backed Shiite militias who fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.”
An intelligence source added that “several command centers for Iranian-backed militias” were hit, along with warehouses filled with munitions. Observers aligned with the Syrian opposition reported seeing large explosions from detonating ammunition caches at the base in Hama.
Many reports attributed the attack to Israel, believed to have struck Syrian military facilities used by Iran in early April, reportedly killing a number of Iranian military personnel. At the time of this writing, there has been no confirmation that Israel conducted the operation.
“An official from a regional alliance that includes Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah confirmed that the strikes near Hama had hit a storage facility on the base and said they had destroyed 200 missiles and killed 16 people, including 11 Iranians,” the New York Times reported.
This official expected Iran to retaliate for the attack, possibly after the May 6 elections in Lebanon, where a number of candidates from Iran’s puppet Hezbollah are on the ballot. Other sources cited by the NYT speculated that Iran squelched reports of over a dozen Iranians dying in the attack because Tehran did not wish to be shamed into retaliating immediately.
The Israeli security cabinet held an unscheduled meeting on Monday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the nation later in the evening, after speaking with U.S. President Donald Trump by telephone on Sunday. At present, the Israeli meeting and address are said to primarily concern Iran cheating on its nuclear deal with Western powers. Netanyahu’s office said that he would reveal “dramatic news about Iran” in his Monday-night address.
At least one Syrian newspaper has claimed the Sunday missile strike on Syrian bases was not carried out by Israel, but was instead launched from American and British bases in northern Jordan.