Israeli air strike destroys Iranian targets in Syria, war monitor says

Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says missile development centre and training camp in Hama province were hit

FILE - In this February 25, 2019 file photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar Assad before their meeting at his office in Tehran, Iran. Assad is the last man standing among a crop of Arab dictators after the fall of the Sudanese and Algerian leaders. He's survived an 8-year war to topple him and an Islamic caliphate over part of his broken country. But Bashar Assad's path is strewn with difficulties and the war for Syria is far from over. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP, File)
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An Israeli air strike in central Syria destroyed an Iranian missile development facility and a training centre, state-run media said on Saturday.

"Around 2.30am ... the Israeli air force carried out a strike targeting one of our military positions in the town of Misyaf," the official Sana news agency quoted a military source as saying.

The strike in Hama province, north of Damascus "wounded three combatants and destroyed buildings," the source said. "Our air defence batteries intercepted some of the Israeli missiles."

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike hit a Syrian military college in the town and two buildings used by Iranian forces in nearby villages – a development centre for medium-range missiles in Zawi and a training camp in Sheikh Ghadban.

Several Iranian fighters died and 17 Syrian troops and members of allied forces were injured, the Observatory said.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment. Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

With the support of US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed repeatedly to take whatever military action he deems necessary to prevent Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah from establishing a continuing military presence in Syria.

Late last month, Mr Trump broke with decades of international consensus to recognise Israel's unilateral annexation of the strategic Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The move was a diplomatic coup for Israel, but was opposed by US foes and allies alike.

Iran and Hezbollah have both intervened in Syria's civil war to support forces loyal to President Bashar Al Assad.

They were joined in 2015 by Russia. Moscow supplied its S-300 air defence system to Mr Al Assad's forces after a Russian military aircraft was downed by mistake by Syrian forces during an Israeli raid on September 17, killing all 15 people on board.

After several months of frosty relations, Russia and Israel resumed co-ordination of their military operations in Syria and Israel's bombing campaign picked up again.