Alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syria have killed four pro-Iranian fighters allied to the Damascus regime, a Britain-based war monitor said on Friday.
Syrian state media earlier said that its air defense system engaged “hostile targets” over the capital Damascus late on Thursday.
“The Israeli enemy launched an aerial attack… targeting positions near Damascus and around the city of Homs,” a military source told state news agency SANA.
“Our air defense responded to the missiles and shot most of them down.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Israeli missiles targeted “arms depots and military positions” belonging to Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, in the Qarah area in the northwest of Damascus province, near Homs province and the Lebanese border.
The strikes killed four members of the Iran-backed group, but it was not immediately clear whether they were Syrian or Lebanese, according to the war monitor, a pro-Syrian opposition organization of uncertain funding based in the UK.
Lebanese media also reported that two missiles fell in the Qalamoun region on the rugged border between Lebanon and Syria, though it was unclear if the projectiles were from the alleged airstrikes or errant interceptors.
The Israel Defense Forces rarely acknowledges its strikes in Syria and a spokesperson told AFP that it did “not comment on foreign media information.”
However, since the start of the war in Syria ten years ago, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Syrian territory, targeting regime positions as well as allied Iranian forces and members of Hezbollah.
Israel regularly says that it will not allow Syria to become a stronghold of its sworn enemy Iran.
Also on Friday, the Syrian foreign ministry sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, urging them “to take firm and immediate measures to prevent the repeated Israeli attacks against Syria” following the reported strikes.
Lebanon similarly complained to the UN after the Israeli jets allegedly violated its airspace to carry out the airstrikes in Syria.
The alleged strikes came hours after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said that his group would begin importing fuel from Iran, defying US sanctions and all but daring Israel or the US to stop the shipment.
Lebanon has been grappling with serious fuel shortages that have paralyzed the country, and was rocked by a blast at a fuel tank last week that killed dozens.
Israel rarely carries out strikes against Lebanon, but has been reported to use its airspace in order to avoid air defense systems stationed in Syria, including ones manned by Russian soldiers.
There have been indications of growing Russian unease over Israel’s air campaign in Syria, which has been aimed at keeping Iranian forces and proxy groups from establishing a foothold in the country.
In July, a Russian military officer said that his military had helped Syria intercept four Israeli missiles using the Buk 2ME air defense system.