Syria reports young girl killed, 10 other people hurt in alleged Israeli strikes

Syrian defense ministry says the airstrikes targeted ‘a central site and residential building’ in Baniyas; 3 pro-Hezbollah fighters in region said killed in parallel attack

Screen capture from video purportedly showing smoke trains for Syrian air defense missiles, May 29, 2024. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video purportedly showing smoke trains for Syrian air defense missiles, May 29, 2024. (X. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

BEIRUT — Syria’s defense ministry said an Israeli airstrike on Wednesday killed a girl and wounded 10 civilians.

“The Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the direction of Lebanon, targeting a central site and a residential building in Baniyas city in the coastal region, killing a girl and wounding 10 civilians,” a ministry statement said.

A war monitor said a parallel strike in the same region killed three pro-Hezbollah Syrian fighters.

State news agency SANA said, citing a military source, said Israeli fighter jets launched their missiles from the direction of Lebanon, targeting a residential building in Baniyas, just south of Latakia.

It said Syria’s air defenses confronted the incoming strikes but also that the strike caused “some material losses.”

Unverified reports on social media claimed a strike targeted a convoy of trucks heading to Iran-backed militias.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor of unclear funding that has previously been accused of inflating tolls and false reporting, said the girl was killed after an Israeli missile and Syrian air defense missile exploded and then fell on the coast.

“Two explosions resonated… in the coastal city of Baniyas, killing a girl,” said the monitor, which put the number of civilians wounded higher at 20.

The alleged Israeli strikes targeted “at least one military site… in the eastern countryside of Homs, causing plumes of smoke to rise,” it added.

The monitor, which has a network of sources inside Syria, said the area also housed members of Iran-backed groups including Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah terror group.

It said a second strike on central Syria killed three Syrian fighters working with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

“Three Syrian fighters working with the Lebanese Hezbollah group were killed in an Israeli strike targeting a military site… in the eastern countryside of Homs,” said the Observatory.

According to the war monitor, the strike was the 42nd apparent Israeli attack on Syria since the beginning of the year.

There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israel rarely acknowledges its strikes in Syria, but when it does it says it aims to counter Iranian influence in the country, which is a key conduit for weapons shipments from Iran to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The city of Homs is roughly 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the border with Lebanon.

On Saturday, an alleged Israeli drone strike in central Syria, near the border with Lebanon, killed two Hezbollah fighters, the Observatory had said at the time.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since the outbreak of the civil war in its northern neighbor, mainly targeting army positions and Iran-backed fighters including from Hezbollah.

The strikes have increased since the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, when the Iran-backed Palestinian terror group launched a massive cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas and free 252 hostages that terrorists kidnapped from Israel during the October 7 onslaught and taken as hostages to Gaza.

Hezbollah has been exchanging near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the day after the Hamas attack. Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

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