Death toll in alleged Israeli strikes near Damascus up to 23 fighters — monitor
search

Death toll in alleged Israeli strikes near Damascus up to 23 fighters — monitor

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says three Iranians, eight Syrians and 12 Tehran-backed operatives killed in air attack; no word from Israel

Explosions are seen in the skies over Damascus as the Syrian military fires anti-aircraft weapons at incoming missiles during an attack attributed to Israel on February 6, 2020. (SANA)
Explosions are seen in the skies over Damascus as the Syrian military fires anti-aircraft weapons at incoming missiles during an attack attributed to Israel on February 6, 2020. (SANA)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Air strikes killed 23 Syrian and foreign fighters in Syria Thursday, a monitor said.

Syria has said the attacks were carried out by Israel. There was no confirmation from Israel.

Israel has in recent years carried out multiple strikes targeting the Iranian military presence on its doorstep. It has pledged to prevent its main enemy from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran is backing President Bashar Assad’s government alongside Russia and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

The pre-dawn raids killed three Iranians and seven Tehran-backed foreign fighters near Kisweh south of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight Syrian air defense forces also lost their lives in both Mezzeh and Jisr Baghdad, west of the capital, the Britain-based war monitor said.

Five Syrian members of a pro-Iran group were killed in the Ezra area in the southern province of Daraa.

A Syrian army source quoted by state news agency SANA said air defenses responded to two waves of Israeli strikes after midnight that targeted the Damascus area and then positions in Daraa and the adjacent province of Quneitra.

“The attack wounded eight fighters,” the source said, without elaborating on where they had been stationed or their nationality.

He said the raids were carried out from the airspace above the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon.

Loud explosions

AFP correspondents in Damascus heard loud explosions around 1:15 a.m.

State television broadcast images showing explosions in the sky.

An Israeli army spokesman declined to comment on the strikes when contacted by AFP.

Illustrative photo of Syrian soldiers preparing an anti-aircraft gun. (AP/File)

Israel has carried out repeated strikes in Syria since the civil war erupted in 2011, mainly targeting government forces and their Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

Israel’s political leadership has spoken publicly of the bombing campaign, although the army rarely comments on individual strikes.

Last month, Damascus accused the Israeli air force of carrying out an attack on the T4 airbase in central Syria, which the Observatory said killed at least three Iran-backed militiamen.

In December, the Observatory said Israeli air strikes killed three foreigners fighting alongside government forces south of the capital.

The previous month, the Israeli army claimed responsibility for a wave of air strikes against Syrian military sites and Iranian forces that killed 23 people including 16 foreigners.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said positions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards foreign operations arm, the Quds Force, were among the targets.

Illustrative. 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)

‘Will not save’ Idlib

The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of pro-democracy protests.

The reported Israeli strikes come as government forces press a blistering offensive against Syria’s last major rebel bastion, in the Idlib region in the northwest.

The Syrian army source said the strikes would not deter government forces from retaking the region, which is dominated by jihadists of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

“This escalation will not save the armed terrorist groups that are collapsing in Idlib and western Aleppo under the strikes of the Syrian Arab Army,” the source said.

The bombardment has killed around 300 civilians since mid-December, the Observatory says.

The violence has seen more than 500,000 civilians flee their homes over the past two months, the United Nations says.

read more:
comments