By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) - The Syrian army responded to Israeli strikes on southern, central and eastern Syria in which two soldiers were killed, the army said on Tuesday in what military defectors and intelligence sources said was a wave of raids that targeted Iranian bases.
The army said Israeli jets hit an army outpost in Salamiya and another in Sabura towns in Hama province only hours after missiles struck other military installations in Deir al Zor province along the border with Iraq and in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.
Earlier an army statement said several attacks occurred simultaneously, one at a military outpost in Kabajib, east of Deir Zor province and in the vicinity of the town of Sukhna in the nearby eastern desert. A third strike hit a military installation farther south in the town of Salkhad, near the southern city of Sweida. Two soldiers died and four were wounded.
The bases are in zones in eastern and southern Syria which Israel had hit in recent months and which are believed to have a strong presence of Iranian-backed militias.
A senior Syrian military defector and a regional intelligence source said an Iranian arms depot near the city of Salamiya was set on fire after it was repeatedly bombed while a command centre in the town of Sabura run by Iranian militias was also severely damaged.
The Israeli army declined to comment.
Regional intelligence sources say Israel’s strikes on Syria are part of a shadow war approved by Washington and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.
Israel has acknowledged conducting many raids inside Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. Israeli defence officials have said in recent weeks Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria where, with the help of its proxy militias, Tehran has expanded its presence.
(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman Additional reporting by Rami Ayoub in Jerusalem; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Grant McCool)