DAMASCUS: An Israeli air strike early on Tuesday killed two Syrian civilians, state media reported, the fourth such attack on government-held areas of the war-torn country in less than a week.
During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.
“At 00:15 (2115 GMT Monday) the Israeli enemy carried out an air strike... and the attack resulted in the death of two civilians,” state news agency Sana said, quoting a military source.
The strike came from the direction of “the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of Damascus and the southern region”, it said, adding that air defence intercepted “most of” the missiles.
Sana had earlier reported “an explosion heard in the vicinity of Damascus”.
While Israel rarely comments on the strikes it carries out on Syria, it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-foe Iran to extend its footprint in the war-torn country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor gave the same civilian death toll, with its director Rami Abdul Rahman adding that “an unknown number of Iran-backed fighters were also killed” in the strike.
Israel fired “barrages of missiles targeting military areas controlled by Iran-backed groups and regime air defence,” said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on a vast network of sources inside Syria.
An Israeli missile targeted a radar in the countryside of Sweida, while another hit a glass factory in the Al-Kiswah area of the Damascus countryside, killing the two civilians, it said.
The monitor had earlier said the missiles also targeted the vicinity of Damascus International Airport and an Iranian complex near the Sayyida Zeinab area, with Syria’s air defence intercepting at least two missiles.
Iran Guards killed
Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and claims only to deploy military advisers in the conflict-ravaged country.
Thousands of Iranians on Tuesday attended a funeral procession in Tehran for two Revolutionary Guards killed in Israeli strikes in Syria last week.
In Friday’s aerial assault, Israeli missiles targeted positions near Damascus, Syrian state media had reported, a day after Israeli strikes near the capital wounded two Syrian soldiers, according to the defence ministry.
“We will avenge the blood of martyrs Milad Heidari and Meghdad Mahghani,” vowed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps spokesman Ramazan Sharif, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, while thousands gathered in central Tehran to mourn them, chanting “down with Israel”.
On Sunday, two Iran-affiliated fighters were killed in an Israeli air strike on targets in Syria, according to the Observatory, with SANA reporting five Syrian soldiers wounded in the assault near the western city of Homs.
The same day, a rare car bombing rocked Damascus, with no deaths reported and no side claiming responsibility.
The Syrian war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful anti-government protests, and escalated into a deadly armed conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.
More than half a million people have been killed and around half of Syria’s pre-war population has been forced from their homes.