Huge explosions reported at Iranian base in northern Syria

Israeli Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz poses for a portrait following an interview with Reuters in New York

At least 26 troops loyal to Assad's regime, mostly Iranians, were killed in the attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor, said.

The Syrian Army attributed "aggression" against its facilities in provinces of Hama (centre) and Aleppo (north) to "enemy", in a clear allusion to Israel. An official for the regional alliance that includes Iran, Syria and the militant group Hezbollah said that most of the dead were Iranians.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a missile warehouse of Iranian militias was hit, killing at least 26 people.

According to foreign source, "Israeli strikes are both hitting targets deeper inside Syria and the nature of these targets has change from weapons convoy and depots to actual Iranian bases", he told The Jerusalem Post.

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Iran and its allies blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on the Tiyas air base in Syria in which several Iranian military personnel were killed, and Iran has warned it would not go "without response".

The missile attack on Syria has occurred after telephone conversation held by US President Donald Trump on Sunday with Netanyahu. But its security Cabinet convened an emergency meeting Monday, apparently to discuss the rising tensions with Israel's northern neighbors.

Syria President Bashar al-Assad, whose main allies are Russian Federation and Iran, did not explicitly mention the overnight strikes but said "hostile countries have shifted to a stage of direct aggression".

Ben Hubbard is a New York Times writer.

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Earlier Sunday Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman vowed to maintain freedom of operation in Syria. It cited "local sources and activists" for its report. Moreover, Iran would be fighting far from its territory, in an area where Israel has shown it controls the skies.

The second very salient point - not only attacked in no hurry to take responsibility, but also attacked in no hurry to lay blame.

No Iranians had been killed in the latest missile attacks, Iran's Tasnim news agency said on Monday. Israel acknowledged that it had attacked T-4 military airfield last February, in retaliation for infiltration of a drone into its airspace.

It also said rockets hit Syrian government bases in the region surrounding Nairab military airport, which is close to Aleppo International Airport. "It's yet to be confirmed but the targets in recent history of Israeli bombing inside of Syria would suggest that that's who's responsible", he said. "Hamas and Islamic Jihad would not survive one week without Iranian support", he added, referring to the Palestinian resistance movements. He said the base has been run by Iranian and Iran-backed fighters from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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