2 pro-regime fighters said killed in purported Israeli strike in Syria
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2 pro-regime fighters said killed in purported Israeli strike in Syria

Monitor says 11 also injured by explosions at munitions depot at base near Damascus, but their nationalities unclear

An explosion reportedly caused by an Israeli strike is seen at the Mazzeh military base near Damascus, Syria, on September 2, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)
An explosion reportedly caused by an Israeli strike is seen at the Mazzeh military base near Damascus, Syria, on September 2, 2018. (Screen capture: Twitter)

At least two members of pro-government military forces were killed overnight in a string of explosions at a military airport near the Syrian capital, a monitoring group said on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the Mazzeh airbase was hit by a “possible Israeli missile, which hit a munitions store setting off successive explosions.”

“It left two pro-regime fighters dead and wounded another 11, some of them in critical condition,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

He could not specify their nationalities or whether they belonged to militias or government forces.

Syrian troops are supported militarily by their Russian and Iranian allies, the Tehran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, as well as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan militiamen.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment. Israel rarely acknowledges aerial raids attributed to it in Syria.

The Lebanese al-Meyadeen news outlet, seen as closely linked to the Syrian regime, also claimed that the explosions were the result of an Israeli missile strike.

While Syria confirmed the explosions at Mazzeh, state media initially said they were caused by a short circuit and not “Israeli aggression.”

An unnamed official in the coalition backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, however, told Reuters the explosions were caused by a missile strike, but did not identify who was believed to be responsible.

Five missiles were reported to have targeted the air base, which houses Syrian Air Force intelligence.

The reported strike came as senior US officials from the State Department were in Israel to discuss Syria with Jerusalem officials.

In January 2017, Syria accused Israel of launching missiles that hit the Mazzeh base, and threatened repercussions. Israeli missiles also reportedly targeted the base in late 2016.

Officials in Jerusalem have said they take action to stop the transfer of advanced weapons to terror groups and to keep Iran from gaining a foothold in the country; Dozens of strikes inside Syria have been attributed to Israel.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would continue taking action against Iran and its proxies in Syria, and would not be affected by a defense cooperation agreement signed between Damascus and Tehran.

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