The strike, which killed eight Iran-backed soldiers, was most likely carried out by Israeli warplanes, Iraqi officials said, offering no evidence. A Lebanese news outlet aligned with Hezbollah also blamed Israel.
By AP and United with Israel Staff
Unidentified planes struck targets in Syria near the border with Iraq on Friday, killing eight Iran-backed Iraqi militiamen, Syrian activists and two Iraqi officials said, an attack that comes amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the planes targeted positions belonging to pro-Iran militias in the Boukamal area, near the border with Iraq. The Britain-based organization, which documents the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the planes struck, among other targets, weapons depots and vehicles belonging to the militias.
An Iraqi security official as well as another official from the Iran-backed Iraqi militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces said warplanes targeted two vehicles carrying missiles on the Syrian side of the border. The strike was most likely carried out by Israeli warplanes, they said but offered no evidence.
The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news outlet also claimed that the raid was carried out by Israel, citing sources in the field, Times of Israel reported. The outlet, which is aligned with Hezbollah, said the raid targeted a weapons transport.
The Israeli military has no immediate comment. The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on the Syria bombing, which comes at a time of high tension between Iran and the U.S.
The Iraqi officials identified the eight casualties as Iraqi militia fighters while the Observatory only said the eight were not Syrians, without giving their nationality. The death toll could rise further, officials said, as there were also wounded militiamen, some reportedly in serious conditions.
Another Iraqi official said those targeted belong to the Imam Ali Brigades, an Iran-backed faction within the PMF. The three Iraqi officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make statements to the media.
Israel has repeatedly struck Iran-linked targets in Syria in recent years and has warned against any permanent Iranian presence on the frontier.
Deir Ezzor 24, an activist collective that reports on news in the border area, said that the planes strikes trucks carrying weapons and depots for ballistic missiles in the area. Omar Abu Laila, a Europe-based activist from Deir el-Zour who runs the group, said the attack triggered “a huge explosion” heard in the Syrian-Iraqi border.
The Sound and picture, another activist collective in Syria’s eastern Deir el-Zour area, said “unidentified planes” struck militia targets in Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Syria authorities.