BEIRUT, Lebanon — Israel on Monday appeared to have escalated its shadow war in Syria against Iran, with a predawn airstrike against a military base that coordinates Iranian-backed militias, killing four Iranian military advisers.
The dead included a colonel who served as a senior officer in Iran’s drone program, according to Iranian news reports.
The attack on the Syrian air base near the desert town of Palmyra in central Syria drew new attention to a conflict between Iran and Israel that has been steadily increasing in intensity while mostly hidden in the shadows of Syria’s civil war.
As Iran has taken advantage of the war’s chaos to build a substantial military infrastructure, Israel has launched scores of strikes to try to stop it, or at least to slow it down.
Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny that Israel had conducted the airstrike. It followed a vow by President Trump to respond to an apparent chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government near Damascus on Saturday. It did not appear to have been in response to that event, raising the possibility that Israel had merely seized the opportunity to take out what it saw as a threat to its own security.