2 Iran-backed fighters said killed in Israeli airstrikes near Syrian capital

Reports say Hezbollah arms depot destroyed, other sites linked to terror group, pro-Iran militias targeted near Damascus airport

A blaze apparently caused by Israeli airstrikes outside Damascus, Syria, November 17, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A blaze apparently caused by Israeli airstrikes outside Damascus, Syria, November 17, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Israeli airstrikes reportedly killed two pro-Iranian fighters near the Syrian capital Damascus early on Friday, during raids targeting a Hezbollah arms depot and other sites near Syria’s capital.

Israel has been said to hit targets in Syria several times in the past weeks as regional tensions rise over the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.

Citing a military source, Syria’s state news agency SANA earlier reported “material damage” from the strikes.

“At around 2:25 a.m. (1125 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights targeting several positions in the vicinity of Damascus,” SANA said.

The Syrian military source did not provide details on the targets but added that Syria’s air defense intercepted some of the Israeli missiles. Syria regularly claims to shoot down Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “two foreign fighters” from pro-Iran groups were killed.

Several others were wounded, it added.

SOHR, run by a single person, has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of false reporting and inflating casualty numbers as well as inventing them wholesale.

The strikes “destroyed an arms depot belonging to Hezbollah,” the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group fighting alongside Syria’s regime, the Observatory said, adding that the bombardment occurred along the road to Damascus International Airport.

The Observatory added that “sites linked to Hezbollah and pro-Iran militias” near the airport were also targeted.

Israeli strikes last month put Syria’s two main airports in Damascus and Aleppo out of service several times over two weeks, and the Damascus terminal remains out of operation.

On November 8, Israeli air strikes killed three pro-Iran fighters as they hit sites belonging to Hezbollah near Damascus, the Observatory reported at the time.

File: Israeli tanks fire rounds during a drill in the Golan Heights on November 9, 2023 (Jalaa Marey / AFP)

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7 — when Hamas-led terrorists massacred around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, in southern Israel and took some 240 hostages in Gaza — Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror groups have exchanged fire with Israeli forces across Lebanon’s southern border.

The persistent skirmishes along the border have resulted in three civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers.

On the Lebanese side, nearly 100 have been killed. The toll includes at least 74 Hezbollah members, eight Palestinian terrorists, several civilians, and one Reuters journalist.

During the decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and its proxy Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

While Israel rarely comments on the strikes it carries out in Syria, it has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to extend its footprint there.

The Syrian war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, escalating into a conflict involving foreign powers and global jihadist groups.

More than half a million people were killed, and around half of Syria’s pre-war population was forced from their homes.

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