Three Syrian soldiers killed in Israeli strike near Damascus: official media

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Three Syrian soldiers were killed in an Israeli airstrike near the capital Damascus on Thursday, according to Syrian state media.

It was the fourth time this month that Israel launched strikes inside Syria, continuing a campaign against pro-Iranian forces supporting the government in Damascus in the civil war that has lasted more than a decade.

“The Israeli enemy carried out an aerial assault with several missiles,” the official SANA news agency reported, adding that three soldiers were killed.

He said Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the missiles in the attack, which occurred around 1:10 a.m. (2310 GMT Wednesday).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which has an extensive network of sources across the country, reported that explosions were heard in Damascus and its suburbs “after the interception of Israeli missiles by the anti-aircraft defense of the Syrian regime”.

It follows strikes in recent days on a town near the Golan Heights, a Syrian military post on February 17, and an assault on anti-aircraft batteries earlier this month.

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as Iranian-backed allied forces and fighters from the Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

– Shadow War –

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, it has admitted to mounting hundreds since 2011.

According to an Israeli military report, it hit around 50 targets inside the territory of its northern neighbor in 2020.

Last year, Israel targeted Syria about 30 times, killing 130 people including five civilians and 125 loyalist fighters, according to SOHR figures.

In December 2021, he carried out a strike targeting an Iranian arms shipment in Latakia – the heart of President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite community – his first on the port since the start of the civil war.

The Israeli military has defended the strikes as a necessary measure to prevent archenemy Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Aharon Haliva accused Iran of “continuing to promote subversion and terror” in the Middle East.

In a shadow war, Israel has targeted suspected Iranian military installations in Syria and mounted a campaign of sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran has been a key supporter of the Syrian government in the decade-long conflict.

It finances, arms and commands a number of Syrian and foreign militias fighting alongside the regular armed forces, foremost among them Hezbollah.

The conflict in Syria has claimed nearly 500,000 lives since it began in 2011 with the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests.

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