Syria says two killed in alleged Israeli strike on Damascus apartment building

State media says missile fired through 4th-floor window in high-security neighborhood that houses Iranian facilities; no comment from IDF

A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli airstrikes targeted an apartment in a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)
A car is removed from the area where reported Israeli airstrikes targeted an apartment in a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 21, 2024. (LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted an apartment in a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district in Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, killing two people, Syrian state media and a security source said.

A military source cited by Syrian state TV said the morning strike wounded a number of other people, identifying the dead as civilians. Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the building from over the Golan Heights.

SANA also published images of the aftermath of the attack, showing the outside of a multi-story building partially blackened with windows blown out, and a fire visible in one apartment that appeared to have been targeted.

The security source said the “attack did not achieve its aims.” Later, Iran’s semi-official Student News Network said the attack did not kill any Iranian nationals or advisers.

The neighborhood hosts residential buildings, schools and Iranian cultural centers, and lies near a large, heavily guarded complex used by security agencies. The district was targeted in another alleged Israeli attack in February 2023 that killed Iranian military experts.

The pro-government Sham FM radio station said the strike hit a building near an Iranian school.

The strike damaged the fourth floor of the 10-story building, shattered window glass on nearby buildings and damaged dozens of cars parked in the area. An empty parked bus for the nearby Al-Bawader Private School was also damaged and people were seen rushing to the school to take their children.

A man clears the rubble in the area where reported Israeli air strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district of Damascus on February 21, 2024. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

Hours later, at least one large blast was heard in the city. The Reuters witness said the force of the blast shook windows of homes in the capital. Local Syrian outlet Sham FM said several explosions were heard in the capital.

The cause of the second explosion was not immediately clear.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

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

Those strikes have apparently ramped up in line with flaring regional tensions since the devastating October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with more than half a dozen of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers killed in suspected Israeli strikes on Syria since December.

Last month, a strike attributed to Israel on the Syrian capital’s western neighborhood of Mazzeh destroyed a building used by the IRGC, killing at least five Iranians.

In December, an Israeli airstrike on a suburb of Damascus killed Iranian general Seyed Razi Mousavi, a longtime Guards adviser in Syria. Israel has also reportedly targeted Palestinian and Lebanese operatives in Syria over the past years.

As a result, the Guards have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria and have planned to rely more on allied Shiite militias to preserve their sway there, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.

People attended the funeral of a high-ranking Iranian general, Razi Moussavi, in Najaf, Iraq, on December 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Anmar Khalil)

Iran, a backer of Hamas, has sought to stay out of Israel’s war with the terror group directly even as its proxies have entered the fray from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria — the so-called “Axis of Resistance” that is hostile to Israeli and US interests.

Also Wednesday, Lebanese media reports multiple airstrikes and sonic booms close to border with Israel.

Lebanese media reported alleged Israeli airstrikes in the south of the country, as unverified photos and videos posted on social media show a large cloud of smoke and a number of smaller blasts in what appears to be a residential area.

Lebanon 24 also quoted unnamed local sources as saying they heard sonic booms from Israeli aircraft.

The strikes were reported in Iqlim al-Tuffah and Nabatieh in southern Lebanon, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the border with Israel.

Later, the IDF said it struck three Hezbollah command rooms in south Lebanon, as well as carried out artillery shelling to “remove threats” in Alma ash-Shab and Dhayra.

On Tuesday, the IDF said the 869th Combat Intelligence Collection Unit spotted several Hezbollah operatives entering a building in south Lebanon’s Yaroun, and quickly called in an airstrike against it.

Since October 8, 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.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 206 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 32 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

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