AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian army said through the official Syrian news agency (SANA) that Israeli missiles hit a major air base in the Syrian province of Homs on Sunday, killing two soldiers and wounding three others.
Military sources said that the Iranian Air Force recently used the Shayrat air base.
Official Syrian media published a short video clip of the “aggression” and said that there was material damage, without going into details.
A military source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the strikes targeted a runway at the sprawling air base southeast of Homs city.
Asked about the raid, an IDF spokesperson said he did not comment on the foreign reports.
The military source said that the runway and underground facilities at Shayrat, including aircraft shelters, have undergone significant expansion by the Russian military in the past three years.
Security sources say that Russia, which maintains a large military presence in Syria, is stationed near the Shayrat air base and is using the base.
Regional and intelligence sources say that in recent months, Israel has intensified its strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt Iran’s increasing use of air supply lines to deliver weapons to its allies in Syria and Lebanon, including the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors such events, said a depot of Iranian and Hezbollah militias located inside the Shayrat air base was destroyed in a raid on Sunday.
Opposition military sources say that Iranian militias control large areas of the western province of Homs near the Lebanese border and to the east, where they have a series of bases.
Iran, which has pumped thousands of its Shiite militias into helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad win his battle against the militants, says its military presence in Syria is limited to a limited number of advisers.
Israel has launched its attacks in Syria for years against what it described as Iranian and Iranian-backed forces that were deployed there during the war that began more than a decade ago.
(Covering) Yasmine Hussein and Ahmed Tolba in Cairo, Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem and Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Gareth Jones and Susan Fenton
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