Twelve Iranian military personnel were killed in an alleged Israeli air strike on an Iranian base in Syria Friday night, Arabic media reported Saturday.
According to reports on Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal TV and the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network, accounts on the Telegram messaging app tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps have been reporting 12 fatalities, while also reporting the names of those killed.
There has been no official confirmation of fatalities by either Syrian or Iranian authorities.
Syria’s state-run news agency reported Israel fired several missiles at a military post near the Syrian capital of Damascus early on Saturday, causing damage.
SANA, the state news agency, claimed Syrian air defenses shot down two of the Israeli missiles.
Arab media reports said Israel fired missiles at a military base Iran has been building near the Syrian city of al-Qiswa, reportedly destroying an arms depot.
Some media outlets affiliated with the Assad regime and Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah initially reported that Israeli warplanes targeted an ammunition bunker belonging to the Syrian Army. But other media outlets reported that the target was a military base that Iran is building in the area, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Israeli border, and that loud explosions were heard after the attack.
There was no immediate official Israeli comment. Israel does not, as a rule, comment on reported strikes in Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a video clip published Saturday night that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria.
The video was recorded Thursday, before the alleged strike, and is set to air in full on Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum in Washington, DC. But the Prime Minister’s Office saw fit to put out the short clip relating to Iranian presence in Syria on Saturday evening.
“Let me reiterate Israel’s policy: We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state,” said Netanyahu.
The alleged Israeli attack came three weeks after the BBC reported that Iran was building a permanent military base in Syria just south of Damascus.
The British broadcaster commissioned a series of satellite pictures that showed widespread construction at the site.
Israel has long warned that Iran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria as part of its efforts to control a land corridor from Iran through to the Mediterranean Sea as it attempts to expand its influence across the Middle East.
Netanyahu has said often that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria, and was reported last week to have sent a warning to this effect via a third party to Syrian President Bashar Assad.