Unidentified planes struck targets in Syria near the border with Iraq on Friday, reports said, triggering "a huge explosion" amid soaring tensions in the region between the US and Iran. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the planes targeted positions belonging to pro-Iran militias in the Boukamal area, near the border with Iraq. The UK-based organization, which documents the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said the planes struck among other targets, weapons depots and vehicles belonging to the militias, the AP reports. An activist from the Deir Ezzor 24 collective said the attack triggered "a huge explosion" heard on the Syrian-Iraqi border. There was no immediate comment from Syria or Iraq, and the reports could not be independently confirmed.
The US carried out military strikes in the area on Dec. 29, killing 25 members of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia in retaliation to a rocket attack on a military base in Iraq that killed a US contractor. The US blamed that attack on a Iranian-backed Iraqi militia. Israel has also struck Iran-backed militias in the area in the past. Amid tensions, this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare visit to Syria for talks with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The area struck Friday is key to a land corridor for Tehran that links Iran across Iraq and Syria. The Observatory report on Friday claimed that Putin had informed Assad during the visit of a US intention to "close" the land corridor for good.
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