The Syrian Air Force has banned Iranians and pro-Tehran Shiite militias from using its military airbases, Zaman al-Wasl reported Monday.
An Iranian Air Force jet prepares for takeoff on a Syrian base. Wikimedia Commons.
Citing a “well-informed” source, the Syrian opposition newspaper said that the decision was made in light of the “series of Israeli strikes in the last few weeks amid rising tensions between Iran and Israel.”
On Thursday, an airstrike was carried out on Iranian bases near Homs that are manned by the Hezbollah terrorist group, according to Syrian media outlets. While Syria and Iran are claiming that the IDF was behind the attack, Israel has refused to comment on the reports, and a spokesperson for the Pentagon stressed neither the US nor its allies had attacked Syria.
...Last week, Moscow said that all foreign forces, except for Russian military officials, should leave Syria. The Iranian Foreign Ministry strongly denounced the statement, saying that it will remain in the war-torn Arab country.
“We will remain in Syria as long as there is a threat of terror and as long as the Syrian government wants us there [no longer, now],” the ministry said. “The nations that need to leave Syria are those who entered without the approval of the Syrian government.”The increased tensions between the Iranian forces in Syria and Israel began in early February when an Iranian drone that had infiltrated Israeli airspace was shot down by an Israeli Air Force aircraft. The incident was followed by a direct clash between Syrian and Iranian forces on one side and Israeli forces on the other. During the clash, an Israeli aircraft was shot down by Syrian air defense missiles.
Since the February 10 clash, there have been several reports of Israeli attacks in Syria and Iranian fatalities as a result of the alleged Israeli air raids [including two strikes using the fifth-generation F-35 fighter - the first time it's been used in live combat - SL].