Targets hit by Iran in Syria
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said it targeted sites belonging to the Islamic State in Syria in retaliation for an attack carried out by the group in Iran last week that killed about 100 people. However, it later emerged that the bombardment targeted an abandoned medical point in the rural area of Idlib governorate.
Brigadier General Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s missile force, stated that four “Khaibar” missiles were fired from southern Iran towards what he called the locations of “Takfiri organizations” in Idlib, and eleven precision ballistic missiles from western Iran towards targets in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to the Iranian Tasnim News Agency.
Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Idlib reported that three missiles fell on the evening of Monday, January 15, in the village of Taltita in the northern countryside of Idlib, resulting in the destruction of a building previously used as a medical point.
The Syria Civil Defense (the White Helmets) stated that their rescue teams received a distress call about two injured individuals in the village of Taltita near the town of Kafr Takharim, about 30 kilometers northwest of the city of Idlib.
It added that their ambulance crews found two people with minor bruises in the town of Kafr Takharim, about ten kilometers from the first strike site. The injured were confirmed safe and the teams continued their work after receiving reports that a strike had targeted a non-operational clinic in the village.
The building that was targeted, according to the Civil Defense, did not record any casualties, while the structure of the building, which is a single-story building, was severely damaged, exceeding 60%.
According to the Civil Defense, initial assessments by its teams indicate that three munitions fell on and near the building; two hit the building one through the roof and another on the eastern side of the building, while the third landed close to the building on the south-western side.
On its part, the Lebanese TV channel “Al-Mayadeen” reported that the Iranian missiles “targeted areas controlled by the fighters of (Hayat Tahrir al-Sham) in northwest Syria in Idlib, specifically headquarters of the (Turkistan Islamic Party) militants, classified as terrorists, in the Jabal al-Summaq area and around the town of Harem.”
The channel added that the targeted area “is where ISIS Khurasan militants are trained and are transferred by the Americans to Afghanistan and the Iranian borders to carry out strikes inside Iran.”
The channel’s sources confirmed that the missiles used were “high precision ballistic missiles that reached their targets and destroyed the principal headquarters of the Turkistan Party.”
The Revolutionary Guard announced the destruction of what it described as gathering places of the leaders and key elements associated with the Islamic State in Syria, following an attack by the group in southeastern Iran that resulted in dozens of casualties, simultaneously with another attack which it described as an “Israeli spy base” in Iraqi Kurdistan, with “ballistic missiles.”
What is the connection to the Islamic State?
On December 3, two bombings occurred during a ceremony and events commemorating the fourth annual anniversary of the assassination of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani by US targeting in 2020 in Kerman province, resulting in about 100 casualties among those present.
Iranian television stated at the time that the two explosions occurred near the “Saheb al-Zaman” mosque in Kerman province, where Soleimani is buried.
The Islamic State declared responsibility for the attack the next day, stating that two suicide bombers carried out the operation in southern Iran, resulting in the death and injury of more than 300 people.
The group’s Amaq News Agency, quoting security sources, reported that the first “martyrdom-seeker” detonated his explosive belt among the gathered people, followed about 20 minutes later by a second explosion carried out by another fighter from the group in the same area.
Where is the Islamic State based?
Islamic State militants are spread in various countries around the world, most notably Syria and Iraq, and African nations. However, there is a significant difference in their distribution, as in Africa the organization operates in groups and controls certain areas in these countries.
In Syria and Iraq, the organization relies on raids and ambushes, as it does not control any specific geographical territory, and its elements primarily move stealthily in the Syrian desert area near the Iraqi borders to the east of Syria.
The organization’s presence in northwest Syria ended in early 2014 when armed confrontations broke out between the organization and opposition factions, leading to its withdrawal from the region towards the provinces of Raqqa, al-Hasakah, and Deir Ezzor.
Over time, cells of the organization and two of its leaders in opposition-controlled areas in northwest Syria, which were responsible for some security operations, were uncovered, but the area did not constitute a base or launch point for the organization’s operations.
Confusion with another bombing?
In the initial moments of the Iranian bombardment on northwest Syria, media outlets close to the Syrian regime reported an Israeli strike aimed at areas in the southern countryside of Aleppo, but the Ministry of Defense in the regime’s government did not comment on the event.
The Russian Sputnik News Agency reported that Syrian air defenses intercepted an “external aggression that tried to target some points in the vicinity of Aleppo city from the southern and eastern sides.”
The agency added that the hostile missiles came from the Mediterranean Sea airspace, outside the territorial waters, off the Syrian coast.
While there was information that an Israeli raid targeted Aleppo International Airport, the Al-Watan local newspaper reported that the airport was operating as usual and was not subjected to any “aggression,” noting that the sounds of four explosions were heard in the area.
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