Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 September 2020

Five pro-Iran fighters killed in mysterious Syria strikes

The attack may have been carried out with drones, a war monitor said

A fighter with the Hashed Al Shaabi militia at a border position in Iraq. AFP
A fighter with the Hashed Al Shaabi militia at a border position in Iraq. AFP

Five pro-Iranian fighters were killed by unidentified missiles on Wednesday evening in Syria's eastern province of Deir Ezzor, a war monitor said.

"Missiles of unidentified origin targeted the headquarters of the 47th Brigade of pro-Iranian militias in the town of Albu Kamal, in the east of Deir Ezzor province, killing five fighters," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Observatory chief Rami Abdul Rahman said drones may have been responsible for the strikes, which caused "loud blasts".

Iran and militias it supports, along with fighters from Iraq and elsewhere, have backed the regime of President Bashar Al Assad in Syria's eight-year war.

Israel has vowed to prevent its regional arch-rival Iran from gaining a foothold in the country and has carried out hundreds of strikes against Iranian targets.

The vast desert province of Deir Ezzor, which neighbours Iraq, hosts several actors in the Syrian conflict besides pro-regime forces.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led armed group backed by the United States, was instrumental in destroying the territory of ISIS.

Five pro-Iranian fighters were killed in similar raids on the outskirts of Albu Kamal on December 8, the Observatory said.

In September, 28 pro-Iranian fighters including at least 10 Iraqis were killed in similar strikes.

The Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah blamed Israel for that attack, quoting a "security source in Syria".

In June 2018, strikes in far eastern Syria were also attributed to Israel by an American official, on condition of anonymity. The Observatory said they killed 55 pro-regime forces.

Syria's complex, multi-faceted conflict has left more than 370,000 people dead and displaced millions since it began in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that were brutally repressed.

A regime bid to regain territory from extremist groups in the north of the country has led over 100,000 people to flee, a Turkish aid group said Monday.

Syrian and Russian forces have recently intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, which Syria's President Bashar Al Assad has vowed to recapture, prompting a wave of refugees towards Turkey.

Many of the migrants fled the city of Maraat al-Numan, with some going to camps near the Turkish border, while others have gone to stay with relatives or to the areas of Afrin and Azaz near the Turkish border, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation's (IHH) media advisor Selim Tosun said.

The IHH said it had begun distributing 20,000 packages of food prepared for the migrants between the city of Idlib and the town of Sarmada. It was also preparing a tent camp in the area of Killi, a village some 13 km from the Turkish border.

Mr Tosun said the camp for families will have 500 tents and can expand.

Updated: December 26, 2019 06:16 PM

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