JERUSALEM – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.
A senior Iranian foreign policy official warned Israel on Tuesday that its strike on an air base in Syria that killed several Iranians would "not remain without a response," the Lebanese news channel Al Mayadeen reported. Seven Iranian military personnel were killed on Monday in the strike on the Tiyas, or T4, air base near Homs, according to the Iranian news agency Tasnim. The semiofficial Fars news agency initially said that three were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the report was later withdrawn without explanation. Syria, Iran and Russia have accused Israel of mounting the attack, though Israel has neither confirmed nor denied involvement. Israel has carried out several strikes in Syria in the past, some aimed at stopping what it says is a military buildup by Iran and its regional ally, Hezbollah, along the Syrian-Israeli border.
In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force in charge of the country's missile program, said it launched six Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – An unarmed Iranian drone shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier at night and came close enough to F-18 fighter jets to put the lives of American pilots at risk, the Navy said Tuesday, reporting the second such tense encounter within a week. The Iranian Sadegh drone flew without any warning lights during the encounter Sunday night with the USS Nimitz, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The drone did not respond to repeated calls over the radio and came within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of U.S. fighters, he said. That "created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws," McConnaughey said in a statement. The drone was unarmed, the lieutenant said, though that model can carry missiles.
MOSUL, IRAQ/SALAHIYAH IRAQ – Iraq's special forces worked Sunday to clear neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Islamic State-held Mosul as bombings launched by the extremist group elsewhere in the country killed at least 20 people. The Mosul offensive has slowed in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas, where they cannot rely as much on airstrikes and shelling because of the risk posed to civilians, who have been told to stay in their homes. "There are a lot of civilians and we are trying to protect them," said Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Timimi. "This is one of the hardest battles that we've faced till now." Some civilians are fleeing the combat zone, while IS militants are holding others back for use as human shields, making it harder for Iraqi commanders on the ground to get approval for requested U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.