• Damascus says civilians, soldiers among those killed
• Iran denounces attacks as desperate attempt to expand war
• Moscow condemns ‘provocative’ acts

BEIRUT: Israel carried out its deadliest strikes in months on northern Syria’s Aleppo province early on Friday.

Israel has ramped up airstrikes in Syria against both the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in recent months.

The Israeli military also claimed on Friday it had killed Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket and missiles unit, in an airstrike in Lebanon.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli attack targeted an area “near rockets depots belonging to Lebanese group Hezbollah”.

“At least 36 soldiers were killed and dozens wounded,” it said, adding that six Hezbollah fighters were also killed.

However, Syria’s defence ministry said Israeli strikes hit several areas in the southeastern part of Aleppo province around 1:45am (2245GMT on Thursday), killing civilians and military personnel.

‘Desperate to expand war’

In a post on X, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said Israel’s attacks on Syria were a “blatant and desperate attempt” to expand the war.

Three security sources told Reuters that 33 Syrians and five Hezbollah fighters had been killed in the strikes. One of the Hezbollah fighters was a local field commander whose brother had been killed in an Israeli strike on southern Lebanon in November, one of the sources said. An Israeli strike on southern Lebanon on Friday killed a Hezbollah fighter, sources in Lebanon said.

Moscow on Friday condemned what it said were “completely unacceptable” and provocative Israeli strikes on Syria.

“Such aggressive actions against the Syrian Arab Republic, which constitute a flagrant violation of the country’s sovereignty and the basic norms of international law, are categorically unacceptable,” Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2024

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