On the night of Wednesday 13th January, a wave of air strikes were reportedly carried out by Israel on Iran-backed militia positions in Syria, in the fourth attack in two weeks. The regions of eastern Deir al-Zour and Albu Kamal have been impacted the most in these recent attacks.
Statistics from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has stated that at least 57 people were killed and many more wounded in the strikes including 14 Syrian soldiers and 43 Allied militiamen. These series of raids have been stated as the deadliest since 2018.
It has been reported that the damage from this airstrike was still being assessed and accused Israel of “directly interfering to support terrorist organisations”, particularly the jihadist group Islamic State, which is active in the area.
The Observatory also reported that days before the strikes, the Fatimid Brigade transported a consignment of Iranian-manufactured weapons to eastern Syria from neighbouring Iran. These weapons were then stored in the targeted region overnight.
The strike comes after Israel’s accusations of its enemy building up a force inside Syria and using the country to smuggle advanced weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. Iran is believed to have deployed hundreds of troops to Syria and to have armed, trained and financed thousands of Shia Muslim militiamen to support forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the nine-year Syrian civil war.
As well as this, the bombing came days after then-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iran “the world’s largest sponsor of state terrorism,” and as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s staunch ally Donald Trump was set to leave office. However, President Joe Biden is expected to resume talks with its allies Iran surrounding nuclear deals in which Israel opposes.
The chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Gen Aviv Kochavi, has told Israeli media that “the Iranian entrenchment in Syria is in a clear slowdown as a result of IDF activity, but we still have a long way to go to complete our goals.” As a result of the ongoing war in Syria, more than 387,000 people have been killed and millions have continued to be displaced after the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Much of the humanitarian aid supporting Syrians after the large amount of air strikes from 2020 onwards has been delivered by the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation who have assisted more than 1.2 million people in Syria. As a result of all of these attacks, people are in dire need of food and basic hygiene, which the IHH has been able to provide them. As part of their operations in Syria, the IHH has continued to conduct humanitarian aid operations focused on peacekeeping and emergency food and shelter services.