Syrian government forces and their allies were leaving military bases and posts in Assad-held areas across the country amid fears of a U.S. strike in the aftermath of a chemical attack in which Assad warplanes bombed civilian neighbourhoods of Douma city with poisonous gas.
The measures came as a senior Iranian official visiting Damascus threatened Israel over the airstrike on a Syrian air base the day after the chemical attack. Several Iranian troops “will not remain unanswered,” a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said.
Multiple senior IDF and defense officials in Israel are quoted as saying that if Iran take action against Israel, Assad and his regime would be “erased from the map”, that Israel is “determined to go this far”.
Israel deployed additional Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the Golan Heights, following suspected Israeli strike in Syria.
The poison gas attack in a Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, just east of Damascus, and Monday’s airstrike by U.S. ally Israel have escalated tensions in the already volatile Mideast and raised the threat of possibly imminent American retaliation.
Iran is one of President Bashar Assad’s strongest backers and has sent thousands of Iran-backed troops to back his forces.
President Donald Trump has been threatening a military strike against Syria, vowing to respond “forcefully” to Saturday’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, warning that Russia — or any other nation found to share responsibility — will “pay a price.”
A Lebanese politician with close links to the Syrian government confirmed that precautionary measures were being taken throughout Syria. The politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about secret military movements, said the atmosphere and American statements hint to a possible strike “but there are no indications on the ground so far.”
The politician said the Syrian government was expecting a limited strike, similar to the one on Shayrat air base last year, referring to last year’s U.S. attack on the central air base of Shayrat in the central province of Homs following an Assad chemical weapons attack on northern Syria.