Syrian army says Israeli strike near Damascus kills soldier

AP , Wednesday 30 Dec 2020

It was the second reported attack in the past week, as Israeli jets bombed targets in the central Syrian town of Masyaf on Thursday

FILE PHOTO: Hezbollah fighters stand near military tanks in Western Qalamoun, Syria August 23, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Israeli jets fired missiles on targets near Damascus early on Wednesday, killing one Syrian soldier and wounding three, Syria's military said.

The after-midnight attack in the Zabadani region in the Damascus countryside targeted a Syrian air defense unit and also caused material damage, an unnamed Syrian military official was quoted as saying by the official SANA news agency.

It was the second reported attack in the past week. Israeli jets bombed targets in the central Syrian town of Masyaf on Thursday.

The report did not provide further details and there was no immediate comment from Israel, which has rarely reported on its attacks inside Syria during the course of the Syrian civil war.

A Britain-based war monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Israeli strikes targeted a weapons and rocket warehouse used by the Iran-allied Lebanese militant Hezbollah group and other militias. Iran and allied militias have played a key role in Syria's civil war since 2011.

In the past few years, Israel has acknowledged carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Syria, most of them aimed at suspected Iranian weapons shipments believed to be bound for Hezbollah. In recent months, Israeli officials have expressed concern that Hezbollah is trying to establish production facilities to make precision guided missiles.

The Observatory said the area targeted on Wednesday is mountainous. The warehouses had been carved into the mountain, which has over the years of the conflict become a haven for the Iran-backed militias.

The Observatory also said the strikes hit a Syrian air defense unit in the area as it attempted to respond to the incoming missiles, killing one soldier and wounding five others. Russian troops, also a key ally of the Syrian government, are deployed nearby, the Observatory said.

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