At least eight Iranian fighters were killed on Tuesday in a suspected Israeli missile attack on an Iranian arms depot in Syria, just a few hours after US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Syrian state media reported on Tuesday that Israel conducted an airstrike on a Syrian military base near Al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, without specifying how many missiles were fired. Meanwhile, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that eight Iranian fighters belonging to the Revolutionary Guard Corps and other pro-Iranian Shiite militiamen were killed.
The reports came just hours after Trump’s dramatic withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday. Trump said the US will exit what he described as a “decaying and rotten” deal, adding that he would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the agreement was signed in 2015.
Iran concluded the historic accord with the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany, and the European Union. The deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear programme for more than a decade in return for lifting economic and political sanctions.
The expected US move came days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Tehran of conducting a “secret” nuclear weapons programme.
The Israeli military did not confirm or deny the missile attack, a posture it regularly assumes when it comes to carrying out airstrikes in Syria. However, it stated on Tuesday that its forces were on high alert near its border with Syria after spotting “unusual” Iranian activity, adding that it ordered the preparation of bomb shelters in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syria and Iran have accused Israel of carrying out a series of missile attacks in the former, which observers believe are aimed at containing Iranian military influence in Syria, the most significant ally of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad after Russia in the civil war that broke out in 2011.
Last April, two airstrikes hit Iranian facilities in Syria. One of them killed seven Iranian personnel described as military advisers, while the other targeted a camp belonging to Iran and its militant proxies, reportedly killing 16, many of them Iranians. More than 1,000 Iranians have been killed in the Syrian civil war, as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps forces have been fighting in support of Al-Assad for several years.