LONDON: Three Iranians were killed in an air strike on a Syrian air base near Homs on Sunday, Iran’s Fars news agency said, as Syria and its main ally Russia blamed Israel for carrying out the attack.
Israel has not confirmed or denied mounting the raid, but Israeli officials said the Tiyas, or T-4, air base was being used by troops from Iran, and that Israel would not accept such a presence in Syria by its arch foe.
The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military force have been fighting in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad for several years. More than 1,000 Iranians have been killed in Syria, including senior members of the Guards.
The semi-official Fars news said on Monday that “two defenders of the shrine, Seyed Ammar Mousavi and Akbar Zavar Jannati” were killed in the air strike “carried out by the Zionist regime’s fighter jets.”
Iran calls its fighters in Syria the defenders of the shrine as it says the forces are there to protect the Zeinab Shrine, a holy site near Damascus.
In a subsequent report, Fars said a third fighter called Mehdi Lotfi Niasar has been killed in the attack.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, said at least 14 people were killed including some fighters of various nationalities.
The attack took place hours after US President Donald Trump warned of a “big price to pay” following the reports of a poison gas attack on the rebel-held town of Douma which killed dozens of people, including children. - Agencies