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5 Iran-backed fighters said killed in alleged Israeli strikes on Syria sites

Monitor says Israeli missiles hit weapons depots, military positions belonging to Syrian forces, pro-Tehran fighters near Damascus; 11 said injured, including 7 Syrian troops

Illustrative: Smoke billows following an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting south of Damascus, Syria, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)
Illustrative: Smoke billows following an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting south of Damascus, Syria, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

Five Iran-backed fighters were killed in an Israeli missile strike south of the Syrian capital, a Britain-based monitoring group said Tuesday.

The missile attack on Monday night hit weapons depots and military positions belonging to Syrian regime forces and Iran-backed militia fighters south of Damascus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The attack wounded at least seven Syrian troops, according to the official SANA news agency, which said the missiles were launched by warplanes from the Golan Heights.

The five killed were all non-Syrian paramilitary fighters, according to the Observatory.

Syrian Air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

It added that 11 combatants were wounded in total — four non-Syrian fighters and seven Syrian troops, of whom two were in critical condition.

The group said the aerial bombardments caused several explosions around the town of Kiswah, south of the Syrian capital, an area that has long been associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The attack reportedly came in two waves. The Reuters news service reported that the assault hit targets in the towns of Jabal al Mane, Muqaylabiya and Zakiya, causing “huge blasts” and allegedly killing Iranian personnel.

A military source quoted by Syria’s official SANA news agency claimed that most of the missiles were shot down. Such claims of interceptions by Syrian state media are generally dismissed by defense analysts as false, empty boasts.

Reuters quoted a Syrian analyst with sources on the ground named Zaid al Reys as saying that the target of the attack was a “major ammunition depot.”

Syrian Air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011. It has targeted government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah.

It rarely confirms details of its operations in Syria, but says Iran’s presence in support of President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

Monday’s attack came a week and a half after Iran and Syria signed an agreement that would see Tehran upgrade the Syrian military’s air defenses, apparently in response to ongoing Israeli strikes in the country.

It was the first in Syria to be attributed to Israel since June, when the Observatory said nine fighters were killed in airstrikes targeting positions of Iran-backed militias near the Iraqi border. Those strikes came hours after a similar raid killed six other Tehran-backed fighters.

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