Iran said on Sunday that a second member of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) died of injuries sustained in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria early Friday.
“Meqdad Meqdani was wounded during a Zionist attack at dawn on Friday and killed,” the semi-official Mehr news agency said, adding that he was a military adviser to the IRGC, according to Reuters news agency. A second IRGC adviser, Milad Heydari, was also killed in the strike.
The IRGC threatened to avenge the incident, saying: “Undoubtedly the Zionist regime will find an answer for this crime.”
Meanwhile, several Israeli media outlets were reporting unspecified assessments that the string of airstrikes in Syria – three out of four consecutive nights – could be linked to last month’s suspected Hezbollah terror bombing near Megiddo in northern Israel, which Jerusalem believes to have been made by terrorists. crossed the Lebanese border fence using a ladder. One man was seriously injured in the attack.
While many details of the investigation into the Megiddo bombing are under a publication ban, the Haaretz news site cited speculation that the series of airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria could indicate IRGC involvement in the latest security incidents.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes near the city of Homs late Saturday, injuring five soldiers, according to a Syrian state-controlled media outlet. The alleged operation followed airstrikes attributed to Israel in the Syrian capital Damascus shortly after midnight early Friday, and also the night before.
Western intelligence sources told Reuters that Saturday’s strikes hit a series of air bases in central Syria where Iranian personnel are based.
— خالد اسكيف (@khalediskef) April 1, 2023
Both sources said the strikes targeted Tiyas air base, also known as T-4, located near the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs Governorate, and al-Dabaa airport near the city of al-Qusayr also in Homs Governorate. near the Lebanese border. It is an area known for the presence of members of the Lebanese Hezbollah, a major terrorist organization supported by Iran, and other pro-Iranian groups and militias.
T-4 is believed to be one of two major airports – the other being Damascus International Airport – where Iranian cargo airlines carrying large arms for Lebanon frequently land. The weapons are then believed to have been stored in warehouses in the area before being shipped to Lebanon.
Saturday’s airstrikes came a day after Syrian media said Israeli airstrikes had hit the capital Damascus for the second time this week. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes targeted weapons depots for government forces and Iranian-backed groups just south of Damascus.
The night before, SANA said the IAF targeted positions in Damascus, injuring two soldiers and causing material damage.
The conditions of the two soldiers were not immediately clear. In recent years, many Syrian soldiers serving in air defense units have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.
The alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites near central Homs #Syria Saturday night, the third such strike to target Syria in a week.
Initial reports indicated that the strike was aimed at the Dabaa airfield near al-Qusayr. pic.twitter.com/UpSgUHsEdz
— ToniMrad (@murat_toni) April 1, 2023
As a general rule, the Israeli military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but it has admitted to sending hundreds of sorties against Iranian-backed groups trying to gain a foothold in the country over the past decade.
The IDF says it also attacks weapons shipments believed to be bound for those groups, including Hezbollah. In addition, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.
The first photos tonight of reported strikes at #Israel near Homs. Some indications are that he may have been targeting al-Dabaa Air Base. It should be noted that Israel has been hit here before, including, per @Israel_Alma_orgpointing to Matla-ul-fajr #Iran Radar 3d VHF. https://t.co/HR8KITHQf1 pic.twitter.com/2nV0bOeAc8
— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) April 1, 2023
The alleged airstrikes on Thursday and Friday followed two attacks in recent weeks against Aleppo International Airport, which were also blamed on Israel. The attacks temporarily closed the airport’s runway.
One of the strikes last week also targeted an underground ammunition depot at the nearby Nairab military airport, according to two unnamed “regional intelligence sources” who spoke to the Reuters news agency. The sources said the site was used to store missile guidance systems delivered by cargo flights from Iran.
Also this month, Israel carried out a rare daytime strike against targets in northwestern Syria, injuring three soldiers and causing damage, SANA said.
Emanuel Fabian and AP contributed to this report.