DAMASCUS: Israeli air strikes on Syria killed three soldiers and wounded three others on Sunday, state media said, after the latest such incident in the war-torn country.

“The aggression led to the death of three soldiers, the wounding of three others,” Syria’s official news agency said, quoting a military source.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

The latest Israeli strikes targeted sites in the countryside around the capital Damascus and south of coastal Tartus province, Sana said, adding that Syria’s air defence systems intercepted some of the missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor also gave the same toll of killed and wounded from the strikes near an air defence base in Tartus province.

The targeted site in Tartus is located eight kilometres from a Russian base, said the monitor, which has a wide network of sources in Syria.

It said ambulances had rushed to the scene of the strikes in Tartus.

Early last month Syria’s defence ministry said an Israeli strike conducted from the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Al Hamadiyah, south of Tartus town, had wounded two civilians.

On Friday, Israeli shelling wounded two civilians in southern Syria near the occupied Golan Heights, according to state media.

Last month, an Israeli strike near Damascus killed three Syrian soldiers. The Observatory said that strike targeted a military facility and an “Iranian weapons depot”.

After the latest incident Israeli authorities said they “do not comment on reports in the foreign media”.

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, the military has defended them as necessary to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers.

The war has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

Russia’s military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favour of Syria’s President Bashar al Assad, whose forces once only controlled a fifth of the country.

Last month the Observatory said a Russian air strike killed seven people, four of them children, in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib region, in the country’s north.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2022

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