Syrian media: Israel attacks southern Damascus

Syrian state media reported Israeli warplanes hits locations south of the capital in the second such attack within a week.

An Israeli armoured vehicle manoeuvres near a sign in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights [File: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Syria’s military says Israeli warplanes have bombed locations south of the capital Damascus in the second such attack in a week.

A Syrian state media report, quoting an unnamed military official, said the fighter jets attacked shortly before midnight on Tuesday.

“At exactly 11:50pm … the Zionist enemy launched an air raid from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights towards southern Damascus,” resulting in “material losses”, the source was quoted as saying.

At least eight fighters operating in pro-Iran militias were killed, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding the attacks targeted an arms depot and a position held by Iranian forces and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah. The nationalities of the dead were not immediately known.

Military defectors said the air raids targeted a military base in Jabal Mane Heights near the town of Kiswa, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards have long been entrenched in a rugged area almost 15km (9.3 miles) south of the centre of Damascus. The area has anti-aircraft missiles that are stationed to defend the Golan Heights along the border with Israel, the military sources said.

Earlier, the state Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said Syria’s air defences responded to the incoming missiles.

Reports on SANA and Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV said Israeli warplanes struck a village in Quneitra province on the edge of the Golan Heights and in the southwest of the capital Damascus. They offered no details.

Iranian proxy

The aerial attacks hit a territory in a zone that extends from the southern countryside of Damascus to the Golan Heights, where the growing Iranian presence is viewed as a strategic threat by Israel.

Israel last week acknowledged attacking what it called a wide range of Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria after spotting a squad planting roadside bombs near one of its positions in the Golan Heights, which it took from Syria in the 1967 war and later annexed in a move that is not internationally recognised.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile attacks on Syria since a civil war broke out in 2011, targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government troops. It rarely acknowledges individual raids but has done so when responding to what it describes as aggression inside Israeli territory.

Last week’s operation appeared to be sending a public message to Iran and Syria after discovering anti-personnel mines near its troops.

There was no immediate Israeli comment on Wednesday.

Last month, an overnight attack on a location in Quneitra was reported by Syrian media, which also said Israeli warplanes were behind it. The Syrian Observatory said three people were killed in that attack on a post used by Iran-allied fighters.

Iran has been a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government throughout the civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and erupted after the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Al-Assad’s government has never publicly acknowledged there are Iranian forces operating on its behalf in Syria’s civil war.

Western intelligence sources say the increase in Israeli raids on Syria this year is part of a shadow war approved by Washington in a bid to check Iran’s military reach.

Israeli defence officials have said in recent months that Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies