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What we know about latest airstrikes in northeast Syria

Syria's Deir ez-Zor has witnessed significant fighting in recent weeks.
AFP via Getty Images

A strike in northeast Syria killed several Iran-backed militia fighters early Tuesday local time, a war monitor has reported. The perpetrator of the attack remains unknown.

What happened: The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that in the city of Deir ez-Zor, warplanes bombed a villa called Abd Al-Moneim Shehab that was used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a communications headquarters. As of Tuesday afternoon local time, 12 non-Syrians and one Syrian citizen in the IRGC and allied militias had died as a result of the attack, according to the observatory.

Videos circulated on social media purportedly showing the aftermath of the strike.

The observatory also reported strikes in al-Bukamal near the Iraqi border and the sound of explosions in al-Mayadin, south of Deir ez-Zor.

Both the observatory and the Syrian government often attribute strikes on Iranian military targets in Syria to the Israeli military. Damascus has not commented on Tuesday’s attack. Israel typically does not comment on its military operations abroad.

The pro-Syrian opposition news outlet Enab Baladi similarly reported that unidentified warplanes struck Iran-backed militia targets in Deir ez-Zor, al-Bukamal and al-Mayadin. The Russian state media channel Sputnik likewise reported that unknown aircraft struck the headquarters of forces allied with the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zor.

Iranian forces in Syria are allied with the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Why it matters: Deir ez-Zor province is the scene of significant conflict in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Last month, six members of the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in a drone strike in Deir ez-Zor. The SDF blamed “Iran-backed militias” for the attack.

In January, a suspected Islamic State attack left at least nine Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters dead in the Deir ez-Zor countryside.

Israel is suspected of carrying out regular airstrikes against Syrian and Iranian military targets throughout Syria, most of them in and around Damascus and Aleppo and some hitting Deir ez-Zor province.

The United States has carried out several rounds of strikes targeting Iran-linked militia targets in Syria and Iraq since the Gaza war began in October in response to attacks on US forces in both countries, including a strike in Deir ez-Zor in November.

The situation has reportedly calmed in recent weeks. The New York Times reported late last month that Iranian proxies have scaled back their attacks on US forces following the American strikes.