This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Air strikes have hit positions of Iran-backed forces and allied militias in eastern Syria, killing 18 fighters, according to a group monitoring the war.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on September 9 that the overnight raids carried out by unidentified warplanes took place in the region of Al-Bukamal near the Iraqi border.
The Observatory said the strikes targeted posts, military vehicles, and arms depots, causing extensive damage.
The number of deaths was likely to increase, it said.
A local activist collective in eastern Syria, the Sound and Pictures, also reported the air strikes, saying they hit an arms depot for Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Iran-backed Shi’ite militias.
Iran, along with Russia, has given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial backing throughout the Syrian war that began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011.
Israel views Iran as its greatest threat and has allegedly struck Iran-linked targets in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon in recent weeks.
Israel’s military said on September 9 that several rockets were fired toward the country from the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, adding that “all failed to hit Israeli territory.”
The army said the rockets were launched “by Shi’ite militia operatives operating under the Iranian Quds Force,” the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) foreign arm.
Meanwhile, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia movement Hizballah said its fighters had shot down an unmanned Israeli drone over southern Lebanon early in the day and seized it.
Israel’s military said one of its drones “fell inside southern Lebanon during routine operations,” without giving a reason.