Israel admits to Syria strike that killed Iranian forces

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By Middle East Affairs

A senior Israeli military official has admitted to The New York Times that Israel targeted an Iranian air base in Syria last week.

“It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people,” said the Israeli military source.

The attack killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force members, and at the time Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.

The official also told The Times that when an armed Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace in February, it “opened a new period,” and that it was “the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel – not by proxy.”

Israel recently said that drone, which launched from Syria, was armed with explosives and on its way to attack.

IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis had said the drone’s flight path and Israel’s “intelligence and operational analysis of the parts of the Iranian unmanned vehicle” showed that “the aircraft was carrying explosives” and that its mission was “an act of sabotage in Israeli territory,” Haaretz reported.

Israel shot the drone down and then sent F-15 war planes to carry out an air strike on a Syrian air base. It was the first time Israel admitted to attacking Syria. One of the Israeli planes was shot down by Syria. The Israeli pilot survived, but tensions between Israel and Iran have increased nonetheless.

Israel considers Iran to be its biggest foe in the region and has repeatedly warned against its presence in Syria, worried the Iranian military is looking to establish itself near the border with Israel. Reuters recently reported United Nations Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura as saying the air base strike and other recent events in Syria were indicative of a “situation of uncontrollable escalation.”

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