Airstrikes hit military bases in northern Syria, killing at least 26. Is Israel responsible?


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Overnight airstrikes that targeted military bases in northern Syria reportedly have killed at least 26, mostly Iranian pro-Syrian government fighters.

At least 60 fighters were wounded and some also remain missing in the Sunday night attacks on the military bases in Hama and Aleppo, according to reports citing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Israel’s Security Cabinet convened an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon in response to the strikes.

The human rights monitor reportedly said that Israel is “probably” responsible, and several news outlets pointed the finger at Israel, noting that Israel refused to comment on the attacks. Israel generally neither confirms nor denies such airstrikes. Other media outlets blamed the United States and British forces for the attacks.

A Syrian military source said on state television Sunday night that “Syria is being exposed to a new aggression with some military bases in rural Hama and Aleppo hit with enemy rockets.”

On Sunday, Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, in an onstage interview at The Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York City said that Israel would react if Russia delivered its S-300 advanced missile-defense system to Syria to help it protect itself against such rocket attacks.

“No doubt we will take the action,” Liberman told Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz.

“We will keep our freedom of operation in all of Syria. We have no intention to attack Russia or to interfere in domestic Syrian issues,” he said. “But if somebody thinks that it is possible to launch missiles or to attack Israel or even our aircraft, no doubt we will respond – and we will respond very forcefully.”

On Friday, Liberman told a think tank in Washington, D.C., that Israel will take action if Iran begins setting up military bases in Syria.

“What we will not allow is for Iranians to establish a forward base in Syria against Israel,” he said.

Israel in the past reportedly has struck arms shipments to Syria from Iran, as well as the T-4 Syrian military base reportedly housing Iranian military installations.

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