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Syria: Unidentified strikes target Iran-backed militias near Iraq border

Over the past year Israeli attacks have concentrated on border areas between Syria and Iraq with heavy presence of Iran militias 
Syrian soldiers stand guard atop a military vehicle at the border-crossing between Albu Kamal in Syria and Al-Qaim in Iraq on 30 September 2019 (AFP)

An unidentified aircraft has targeted a base run by an Iran-backed militia in Syria's eastern province of Deir Ezzor, bordering Iraq, where Tehran has been expanding its military presence for the past year, residents and military sources said on Monday.

The sources said the strikes hit south of the mainly Sunni tribal town of Mayadeen, which, after Islamic State militants were driven out, has become a major base for several Shia militia, mainly from Iraq.

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Iran-backed fighters patrolling the streets were put on high alert and ambulances were seen racing to the desert outskirts of the city after several explosions were heard, two residents said.

"Panicky militias were calling on pedestrians and cars to clear the city centre and main streets around it," Ahmad al-Shawi, a resident, told Reuters in a text message.

The militias controlling the mainly Sunni tribal town, along the Euphrates River, are part of a growing presence across Deir Ezzor province, residents and military sources say.

Iran-backed militias also control large stretches of the border area on the Iraqi side. 

Israel, alarmed by Tehran’s growing presence in Syria, has carried out hundreds of air strikes on Syrian territory over the years, targeting government positions and Iran-backed forces, including Hezbollah.

Over the past year, unmanned Israeli aircraft have mainly targeted the border town of Albu Kamal, south east of Mayadeen, that lies on a strategic supply route for Iran-backed militias who regularly send reinforcements from Iraq into Syria.