Syria says four soldiers killed in alleged Israeli airstrike on Damascus

Another four wounded and property damage reported in first apparent strike since July 19; state TV claims missile defense batteries knocked down some Israeli missiles

Still from a video purportedly showing an explosion over Damascus, Syria, on August 7, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter)
Still from a video purportedly showing an explosion over Damascus, Syria, on August 7, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter)

Israeli airstrikes targeted areas in and near Syria’s capital Damascus early Monday, killing four Syrian soldiers, the country’s official media said early Monday.

Another four soldiers were wounded in the alleged Israeli sortie at around 2:20 a.m. and there was unspecified property damage, Syria’s state-run SANA media outlet reported.

“The aggression led to the death of four soldiers, the wounding of four others and some material losses,” SANA quoted a military official saying.

The fatalities were identified by Syrian media as Maj. Issa Taha Hammoud, Lt. Lu’ayy Bassam Muhammad, Lt. Ahmed Marei, and Lt. Sharaf Issa Mahmoud Abboud.

Hammoud was identified as a military engineer. There was no immediate information on the positions of the three lieutenants. In recent years, numerous Syrian soldiers serving in air defense units have been killed in Israeli airstrikes.

An AFP correspondent in the capital reported hearing the sound of explosions, and footage shared online appeared to show bright flashes lighting up the sky, either from missile strikes or air defense projectiles.

In one unverified video, seemingly taken from near the targeted site, at least six explosions could be heard as jets screamed overhead and a fireball lit up the night sky.

SANA said Syrian air defenses managed to knock down “some” of the Israeli missiles. Syria regularly claims to intercept Israeli projectiles, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

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

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

The attack would be the first alleged Israeli sortie over Syria since July 19, when fighter jets reportedly carried out strikes against targets in Damascus, wounding two soldiers.

In early July, Israel attacked a Syrian air defense battery after a missile launched from the system earlier in the night exploded in Israeli airspace.

The last several months have seen increased tensions along Israel’s northern border via Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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