syria strike damascus
Police officers stand on the rubble of a damaged building at the site of a rocket attack, in central Damascus' Kafr Sousa neighborhood, Syria, February 19, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Damascus: Israeli airstrikes targeted a residential neighbourhood in the Syrian capital of Damascus early Sunday, killing at least five people and wounding 15, Syrian state news reported.

Loud explosions were heard over a central area of the capital around 12:30am local time, and SANA reported that Syrian air defences were “confronting hostile targets in the sky around Damascus.”

Syrian state media agency SANA, citing a military source, reported that five people had been killed, among them a soldier, and 15 civilians wounded, along with “destruction of a number of residential buildings.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, reported that 15 people, including a woman, were killed in strikes targeting sites connected with Iranian militias and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. They took place in the Damascus countryside and on an Iranian school in the neighbourhood of Kafr Sousa in the capital, it said.

There was no immediate statement from Israel on the attack.

Israeli airstrikes frequently target sites in the vicinity of Damascus. The Saturday night strikes were the first since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6.

The last reported attack on Damascus was on Jan. 2, when the Syrian army reported that Israel’s military fired missiles toward the international airport of Syria’s capital early Monday, putting it out of service and killing two soldiers and wounding two others.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses the operations.

Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The Israeli strikes come amid a wider shadow war between Israel and Iran. The attacks on airports in Damascus and Aleppo were over fears they were being used to funnel Iranian weaponry into the country.