Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was returning from New York, was not expected to make it back in time for the meeting.
In the hours after the strikes, media reports said that 18 members of Iran’s military, including a senior officer, were killed in the raids. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 26 pro-regime fighters, most of them Iranians, had been killed. There were conflicting reports on the number of casualties, with some opposition-linked outlets placing the overall number of fatalities at 38.
Iran subsequently denied that its bases in Syria had been targeted or that any of its soldiers had been killed.
Syrian state media reported overnight that “enemy missiles” had struck government targets in Hama and Aleppo provinces, without mentioning any casualties or who may have been responsible.
In the hours after the strikes, media reports said that 18 members of Iran’s military, including a senior officer, were killed in the raids. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said 26 pro-regime fighters, most of them Iranians, had been killed.
While some sources blamed Israel for the purported strikes, Syrian state-owned news site Tishreen said late Sunday the raids were carried out by the United States and British forces. The Western troops launched nine ballistic missiles from military bases in northern Jordan that struck Syrian bases near Aleppo and Hama, the news outlet said on its Facebook page.
"We refuse to comment [on this]," she said.
— Strategic Sentinel (@StratSentinel) 29 апреля 2018 г.
Overnight attack comes with Pompeo in the region, Netanyahu and Trump on the phone, Liberman in the US, and the US Army CENTCOM chief having visited without fanfare last week
The base that was attacked in the Hama area belongs to the 47th Brigade of President Bashar Assad’s Syrian Army, but apparently there were many Shiites and/or Iranians in the area. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory (based in London) reported that 26 people were killed in this attack, Iranians among them. Another report spoke of 38 fatalities. Whatever the case, it is clear that the strike was highly unusual in several respects
First and foremost was the sheer power of the attack. The pictures and the sounds, and the large number of casualties, point to an incident of larger scale than those to which we have become accustomed. We are not talking here about just another strike on another Hezbollah convoy, but rather what would appear to be a new step in what is now the almost-open warfare being waged between Iran and Israel in recent weeks on Syrian territory.
The same player that earlier this month attacked the T-4 airbase, from which an Iranian attack drone was launched into Israel in February, apparently struck again overnight Sunday-Monday, taking the gloves off and moving into a new level of military confrontation.
Second, not only is the attacking force not rushing to take responsibility, but those who are being attacked are not hurrying to assign blame. That is to say, there may be hints regarding ostensible Israeli responsibility, but there has been no direct accusation — at least not at the time of writing.
Indeed, one newspaper associated with the Assad regime, Tishreen, has even claimed that the attack was carried out by US and UK forces using ballistic missiles fired from Jordan.
This report would appear to be somewhat improbable, but the bottom line is that Damascus, Tehran and even Moscow would seem to be wary at this stage of issuing declarations that might require them to retaliate against Israel, or cause them to appear to be making empty threats in light of Iran’s repeated public promises after the last attack, on T-4, that retaliation against Israel would emphatically follow.
Third, the latest strike was carried out at a time when the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting the region, and just a few hours after he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two of them used the opportunity to issue no shortage of threats and promises to thwart Iran’s aggression and nuclear ambitions.
Late Sunday, news also broke of a phone call between Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has been meeting with his US counterpart James Mattis in Washington. And less than a week ago, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the US army’s Central Command, or CENTCOM, whose sphere of responsibility includes Syria and Iran, made a largely unpublicized visit to Israel.
All this is beginning to look rather like a coordinated Israeli-American operation to limit Iran’s military activities in Syria — simultaneously conveying the message to Moscow that Russia’s green light for Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria is not acceptable in Jerusalem and Washington.
Syrian army says 'enemy' rocket attacks strike at military bases
The Syrian army said on Sunday that rockets had struck several military bases in Hama and Aleppo countryside in what it said was new "aggression" by its enemies, state television said.
In a news flash, state television said the missile attacks took place at 10:30 p.m. local time. Earlier, state television said successive blasts were heard in rural Hama province and that authorities were investigating the cause.
"Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets," an army source was quoted as saying without elaborating.
Reports from the Syrian opposition said 38 regime soldiers were killed and 57 were injured in the attack, citing media outlets with connections to the regime.
An opposition source said one of the locations hit was an army base known as Brigade 47 near Hama city, widely known as a recruitment center for Iranian-backed Shi'ite militias who fight alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.
State television did not give a location for the explosions but two residents contacted in eastern Hama countryside said the blasts came from a military base reported to be used by Iranian-backed forces.
Tensions have risen dramatically between the two arch-enemies following the infiltration of an armed Iranian drone into northern Israel which the IDF claims was on a sabotage attack mission against the Jewish State. 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.