update deskMiddle East

Sixteen said killed in alleged Israeli Syria strike

Syrian media reports "significant damage" and "a number" of civilian casualties • Those killed belonged to pro-Iranian militias, according to an opposition war monitor.

Explosions in Damascus destroy an arms depot belonging to Iranian-backed groups, Aug. 13, 2023. Credit: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Explosions in Damascus destroy an arms depot belonging to Iranian-backed groups, Aug. 13, 2023. Credit: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 16 members of a pro-Iran militia were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike on a copper plant in northern Syria early on Monday morning, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

The Syrian army reported that missiles launched from the southeast around midnight had struck multiple sites in the Aleppo region. The statement said the attack resulted in several civilian casualties and caused significant damage.

One of the sites hit was a copper factory in the town of Hayyan in northern Aleppo province, an area controlled by pro-Iranian militias made up of Syrian and foreign fighters, according to Arab media reports.

A large fire broke out at the plant following the strike and ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene, according to a journalist affiliated with the Assad regime.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group aligned with the Syrian opposition, reported at least 16 militia members were killed in the attack, of both Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities. Several militia members were injured, the war monitor said, some critically, with the death toll expected to rise further.

In addition to the copper smelting plant, a weapons depot belonging to pro-Iranian militias was also hit, according to the war monitor.

The SOHR report also noted that Russian military checkpoints are located near the targeted sites and that the “sudden Israeli targeting caused confusion and caused the regime forces’ air defense system to not operate.”

Last month, at least six Hezbollah members were reportedly killed in an Israeli strike on the terrorist group’s headquarters in Al-Qusayr, southwest of Homs, Syria, near northern Lebanon.

The six people killed were “Iran-backed fighters” of non-Syrian nationality, according to SOHR, which added that others were wounded.

Israel also reportedly attacked another target near Homs on Monday, amid an ongoing effort to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in the country.

Israel rarely admits to attacks on Syrian territory, although in February the IDF said that it had attacked more than 50 targets belonging to Hezbollah and other Iran-backed terrorist groups in Syria since Oct. 7.

The same month, Reuters reported that Iran had removed senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers from Syria following a series of deadly strikes attributed to Israel.

Israel Hayom contributed to this report.

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