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Israel 'preparing for war' with Iran in Syria, US officials say

Israeli F-15s targeted a military base in Hama on Sunday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 May, 2018

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Israel appears to be gearing up for major military action against Iran in Syria, and is seeking US blessings for the intervention.

Israeli F-15s targeted a military base in the western Syrian city of Hama on Sunday following claims that Iran delivered weapons to the base, three US officials have said.

The strikes on the base in Syria's northern region - known as Brigade 47 - killed at least 26 pro-Syrian regime fighters, mostly Iranians. The strike injured three dozen others.

The Syrian regime denounced Sunday's attack as a "fresh aggression". Following the attacks, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the time when Tehran's enemies can "hit and run" is over.

The unnamed US officials told NBC News that Israel now seems to be preparing for military action against Iran in Syria and is seeking US support.

"On the list of the potentials for most likely live hostility around the world, the battle between Israel and Iran in Syria is at the top of the list right now," one senior US official said.

The NBC report said Iran has increased cargo flights to Syria with weapons shipments over the past two weeks.

Two US official believe the shipments are intended for Iranian ground forces that would attack Israel, the report added.

While Russia is running the air war for the Assad regime, Iran is conducting the ground war.

There is now an Iranian presence in every major Syrian and Russian base in the country, the officials said.

Over the past week, senior Israeli military officials have met with their US counterparts to shore up US support for stronger action against Iran in Syria.

The attack on Sunday comes amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel following an airstrike earlier this month on Syria's T4 air base in central province of Homs, which killed at least seven Iranian military personnel.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday that tens of thousands of documents recently recovered by Israeli intelligence operatives in Tehran proved Iran had a secret nuclear weapons programme that it could put into action at any time.

Israel's military has struck targets in Syria more than 100 times since 2012, largely targeting weapons convoys intended for Lebanon's Hizballah group.

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