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Israeli Air Force F15 planes fly during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, December 27, 2017..(Photo by: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Syria accuses Israel of striking T4 airbase near Homs
By ANNA AHRONHEIM
07/09/2018
Senior Iranian officials said Iranian troops are to remain in Syria.
Syrian state TV accused Israel of striking Syria’s T4 Airbase near Homs just hours after a senior Iranian official said Iran will maintain its military presence in Syria.

Citing a military source, official Syrian news agency SANA said the air defense batteries downed “a number of missiles that targeted the T4 airport” late on Sunday night.

Unconfirmed reports said the jets flew in via Jordan and passed over the al-Tanf area where the United States has a military base, and Al Jazeera reported that between four to six missiles struck the base causing material damage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the attack targeted “Iranian forces and pro-Assad militias” and that “there are likely fatalities.”

Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish State.

Israel has admitted to having carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah targets and is suspected of carrying out hundreds of others.

In May, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that Israel will continue to attack targets that threaten the Jewish state.

“This is a permanent policy: if someone is going to carry out an attack against the State of Israel, to launch missiles against the State of Israel, we will always try to strike it first,” he said.

Tensions have risen dramatically between the two archenemies in recent months, and following the strike Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the time when Iran’s enemies could “hit and run” was over.

In February, an armed Iranian drone infiltrated into northern Israel, which the IDF claims was a sabotage attack mission.

In mid-April, a strike on the T4 airbase in Homs province blamed on Israel killed seven IRGC soldiers, including Col.

Mehdi Dehghan, who led the drone unit operating out of the base. Reports later surfaced that advanced Iranian Air defenses had been the target of the strike.

On Saturday Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian parliament speaker’s special adviser on international affairs, stated that Syrians will not allow the country to “once again fall victim” to Israel.

“The Syrian people will not allow the country to be turned into the hotbed of Zionist terrorists once again,” Amir-Abdollahian was quoted by Iranian media as saying while meeting with Palestinian Ambassador to Iran Salah al-Zawawi.

“The Zionist regime tries to gain dominance over Syria after [Islamic State], but resistance forces and military advisers from the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue their presence alongside Syria to counter terrorism, “ he added.

On Quds Day in early June the deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Hossein Salami warned that the Islamic army in Syria” aimed at operating from the Golan Heights against Israel was awaiting orders “to eradicate the evil regime.”

According to Israeli intelligence estimates there are thousands of Iranian advisers and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers in Syria, some 9000 Shia militia fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and another 7,000 Hezbollah fighters.
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