Iran is warning Israel of a ‘crushing’ response to ‘hit and run’ attacks in Syria

Iran said on Sunday it would end what it called Israel’s practice of ‘hit and run’ attacks in Syria, as an unconfirmed report said at least 14 pro-Iranian fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan were killed in nighttime air strikes in Syria. Eastern Syria. .

Tehran made the threat after a major Israeli attack last week in response to what Jerusalem said was a failed Iranian explosives attack on the Golan Heights.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference that “the Zionist regime is well aware that the era of hit and run is over and so they are very careful.”

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He also denied Israel’s long-standing claim that Tehran is establishing a permanent military presence in Syria, saying Iran was in the country as an adviser.

Saeed Khatibzadeh (Screen shot: YouTube)

“Iran’s presence in Syria is advisory, and if anyone disrupts this advisory presence, our response will of course be devastating,” Khatibzadeh said, according to Reuters news agency.

“I do not affirm the martyrdom of the Iranian armed forces in Syria,” Khatibzadeh said.

Khatibzadeh also said the “crimes” committed by the United States against Iran do not prevent “carefully considered” exchanges between the two countries.

“The future of Iran-United States relations is not easy,” Khatibzadeh said as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s administration began to show signs of apparent rapprochement with US President-elect Joe Biden.

‘That is natural [between two] members of the United Nations [like the US and Iran] there have always been, and there have been, very carefully considered exchanges, in a well-known context, “Khatibzadeh said, noting that” does not mean Iran forgets this list of crimes. ”

Biden has promised a return to diplomacy with Iran after four ragged years under Trump.

Khatibzadeh’s comments came when the Syrian Human Rights Observatory said a number of overnight attacks in Deir Ezzor province, on the border with Iraq, were likely carried out by Israeli warplanes.

More than 10 attacks hit positions by Iranian-backed militias outside the border town of Albu Kamal, according to the war monitor.

Eight Iraqi and six Afghan fighters were killed in the attack. It also destroyed two bases, as well as several military vehicles, the observatory added.

There was no confirmation of the strike from official sources or other news reports. In the past, questions have been raised about the accuracy of reports from the UK-based monitor, which is closely linked to the Syrian opposition. The group has been accused of blowing up the number of victims and inventing incidents.

There was no comment from the Israel Defense Forces. The IDF generally maintains ambiguous policies regarding its activities against Iran and its proxies in Syria and publicly refuses to acknowledge its actions.

Illustrative: waves of smoke after an alleged Israeli air strike targeting southern Damascus, Syria, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

Iranian-backed fighters are heavily deployed in a stretch of territory between the Syrian cities of Albu Kamal and Mayadeen, both former strongholds of the Islamic State group.

On Wednesday, the IDF made a rare announcement of attacks on Iranian forces in Syria.

The military said it had “bombed warehouses, command posts and military complexes, as well as surface-to-air missile batteries” in early morning retaliatory attacks following the discovery of mines planted near the Israel-Syria border. The military did not specify the location of the three sites, but they turned out to be military positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

On Thursday morning, the IDF also released before and after aerial photos of two sites bombed in the attacks: a military complex used by the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force; and a command center of the 7th Division of the Syrian Army, which Israel says is cooperating extensively with Iranian forces in Syria.

A before-and-after photo showing the damage caused by Israeli forces to what it says is an Iranian military complex outside Damascus on November 17, 2020. (Israeli Defense Forces)

Syrian state media reported that three Syrian soldiers were killed in the attacks. All three appeared to serve in air defense batteries destroyed by the IDF after firing at Israeli jets.

The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said a total of 10 people were killed in the Israeli attacks, some of them Iranian.

This could not be immediately confirmed and was not reported by other groups in Syria.

A before-and-after photo of the damage Israeli forces did to a command center of the Syrian Army’s 7th Division in southern Syria on Nov.17, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Tuesday, IDF combat engineers disarmed three anti-personnel mines on Israeli territory, near the Syrian border, planted by Syrian nationals on Iran’s behalf several weeks earlier, according to the military.

Israel sees a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria as an unacceptable threat that it will prevent with military measures.

The IDF has launched hundreds of attacks in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against Iran’s attempts to establish a permanent military presence in the country and against attempts to transport advanced, pioneering weapons to terrorist groups in the region mainly Hezbollah. .

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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