Israeli airstrike kills 2 near Damascus amid series of attacks — Syrian state media

Fourth strike attributed to IAF hits Syria in under a week, a day after suspected Iranian drone shot down over Israeli airspace

Flares of Syrian air defense rockets are seen in the sky of Damascus on April 4, 2023. (STRINGER / AFP)
Flares of Syrian air defense rockets are seen in the sky of Damascus on April 4, 2023. (STRINGER / AFP)

Two Syrian civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus early Tuesday, Syrian state media said.

The incident was the fourth airstrike attributed to Israel to hit targets in Syria in less than a week, and came a day after the Israeli Air Force downed a suspected Iranian drone in Israeli airspace.

“At 00:15 the Israeli enemy carried out an airstrike… and the attack resulted in the death of two civilians,” the Syrian state news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.

The report said the attack came from the direction of the Golan Heights and targeted several sites around the capital Damascus and the “southern region.”

SANA had earlier reported “an explosion heard in the vicinity of Damascus.”

Other airstrikes attributed to Israel in the past week have hit targets near Damascus and the central province of Homs.

One of the recent attacks near the capital wounded five soldiers, and another injured two, Syrian media said. Other airstrikes in the past month have hit the Aleppo International Airport, temporarily closing its runway.

Some reports have said the string of airstrikes could be linked to last month’s suspected Hezbollah terror bombing near Megiddo in northern Israel, which Jerusalem believes was carried out by a terrorist who crossed the Lebanon border fence using a ladder. One man was seriously wounded in the attack.

As a general rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but it has acknowledged conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

File: An IAF F-15I fighter jet of the 69th squadron takes off from Hatzerim Airbase in southern Israel, during a pilots graduation ceremony, June 22, 2022. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

On Monday, a military source said Iran appears to have been behind the launch of a drone that was brought down over Israeli airspace this week.

The interception happened shortly after Iranian state media reported that an Iranian adviser who was wounded in an Israeli airstrike in Syria over the weekend had died of his wounds. That made him the second Iranian adviser allegedly killed by Israel in the airstrike.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday warned Iran and the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah that Israel would not tolerate any efforts to harm the country or its citizens.

“We will not allow the Iranians and Hezbollah to harm us. We have not allowed it in the past, we won’t allow it now, or anytime in the future,” Gallant said. He also accused Iran of seeking to entrench its presence along Israel’s borders.

“When necessary, we will push them out of Syria to where they belong. And that is Iran,” Gallant added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, “In recent days we’re taking action outside our borders against regimes that support terror and plot our destruction.”

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest enemy, citing the country’s hostile rhetoric, support for terror groups like Hezbollah, and its suspected nuclear program. Iran denies Western allegations that it is pursuing a nuclear bomb.

Also last week, Greece announced the arrest of two Pakistani operatives it said were planning an attack on a Jewish center in Athens. Israel has said Iran was behind the plot.

Separately, a rare car bombing rocked Damascus on Sunday, with no deaths reported and no side claiming responsibility.

AFP contributed to this report.

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