DAMASCUS/NEW YORK: Israeli strikes targeting Syrian regime military positions and a weapons depot near Damascus killed three Iran-backed militia fighters, a Britain-based war monitor said on Thursday.
The strikes near the capital “destroyed a weapons depot likely used by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia,” among other Iran-backed groups, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “It also killed three ... Iran-backed militia fighters,” said the monitor.
The observatory said it could not determine their nationalities but that they were all non-Syrians.
The official SANA news agency reported the raids but not the casualties, saying four soldiers were wounded in the attack.
“At around 12:56 the Israeli enemy carried out aggression from the direction of Lebanon on some positions in the vicinity of Damascus,” SANA said, citing a military source.
“Our air defenses intercepted the aggression and shot down” most of the missiles, the news outlet said, adding that “four soldiers were injured.”
The strikes also caused “some material damage.”
The source did not provide details on the targets.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out raids in Syria, mostly targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government troops.
Israel rarely confirms the strikes, but its army has said it hit about 50 targets in the war-torn country last year, without providing details.
Hezbollah is the only group in Lebanon not to have disarmed after the 1975-1990 civil war, but is also a major player in Lebanese politics.
It is a strong ally of Iran and Damascus and has been officially fighting in Syria since 2013.
Separately, Syrian regime forces fired a missile at a civilian vehicle in a rebel-held village in the country’s northwest on Thursday, killing seven people, including three children from the same family, opposition activists said.
The attack took place near the village of Najia, close to front lines with government forces in Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country. The missile killed two men, two women and three children, and wounded several others, according to the observatory, and an Idlib-based citizen journalist, Salwa Abdul-Rahman.
Earlier this week, Russia sparred with the US and its allies over a vote later this month that could strip Syria of voting rights in the international chemical weapons watchdog, with Moscow accusing the West of trying to “demonize Damascus” and the US demanding a strong message to Syria’s government that using chemical weapons has consequences.