WHO worker and Iranian adviser among several killed in Syria air strikes

The Syrian Observatory said the villa targeted ‘served as a communications centre’ in the area.

air strike in Syria's eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
A damaged building following an air strike in Syria's eastern city of Deir ez-Zor [AFP]

At least eight people have been killed in air strikes in eastern Syria, according to a war monitor and Syrian state media, including a World Health Organization worker and an Iranian military adviser.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the air strikes on Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor affiliated with Syria’s opposition, said at least 15 people were killed, including an adviser with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), two of his bodyguards, nine Iraqi fighters from an Iran-backed group and two Syrians working with the Iranians.

Syrian state media said at least seven soldiers, including a member of the IRGC, and one civilian were killed. At least 19 other soldiers and 13 civilians were wounded in the strikes that targeted residential areas and military sites in Deir ez-Zor province and caused significant damage to public and private properties, Syrian state media said.

Emad Shehab, an engineer in the provincial capital, also named Deir ez-Zor, was killed when his building was hit during a series of air strikes across the area, the WHO said.

It said Shehab worked as WHO’s focal point for water, sanitation and hygiene in the Syrian city.

“Shehab’s untimely passing marks not only a great loss for his loved ones, but is a stark reminder of the ongoing violence and suffering endured by the people of Syria,” Hanan Balkhy, WHO’s regional director for the eastern Mediterranean, said in a statement.

“My colleagues and I are heartbroken at the tragic loss of another one of our own in an airstrike in #Syria this morning,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strikes. Israel sometimes attacks Iran-linked targets in Syria, but rarely acknowledges them.

The United States said it was not behind the overnight attacks.

“We did not carry out air strikes in Syria last night,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told reporters in Washington.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported the attack was “carried out by the Zionist regime”, referring to Israel.

IRNA identified the military adviser who was killed as Behrouz Vahedi, saying he belonged to the Quds force, the foreign operations arm of the IRGC.

The Observatory said that the strikes were the first of their kind in eastern Syria since early February.

Hammoud al-Jabbour, who lives a short walk from the villa, told AFP he woke up to the sound of explosions.

“It was one of the biggest strikes I’ve heard,” he said. “The windows of my house were shattered, the power was cut in several neighbourhoods and the main roads were closed.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies