BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s air defenses responded Saturday to missiles fired from Israel toward suburbs of the capital Damascus, wounding two soldiers, the Syrian military said.
Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted a statement by an unnamed military official who said the air defenses shot down several incoming surface-to-surface missiles from northern Israel just before noon, which also caused damage in the area.
Israel carries out raids on Syria mostly during nighttime and rarely comments on individual attacks.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor from the Syrian opposition, said the missiles hit northwest of Damascus, killing five Iran-allied militiamen. The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said it was not clear if those killed were Syrians or foreigners.
There was no official word on deaths.
The Observatory said the target was a shipment of weapons and ammunition heading to Lebanon. It had earlier said that the areas hit contain arms depots for Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, and positions of the Syrian military and Iran-backed militias.
Saturday’s strikes came days after Syria accused Israel of carrying out an attack in the country’s south, without offering details.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.
Israel has acknowledged it is targeting bases of Iran-allied militias, such as the powerful Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. It is going after arms shipments believed to be bound for the group. Hezbollah is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the civil war.
Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
Israeli – Russian deconfliction mechanism
This development comes days after Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Israeli PM Naftali Bennett decided during their meeting in Sochi to preserve the so-called deconfliction mechanism allowing Israel to carry out attacks on Syria without Moscow responding .
“Russia is a very important player in our region, a kind of neighbor for us in the north,” Bennett said after the leaders met at the Black Sea resort town for their first face-to-face talks since Bennett took office earlier this year, referring to Russia’s large military presence in Syria.
“As such, our relationship with Russia is strategic, but also on an almost daily basis, and we need to maintain this direct and intimate discourse,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post.
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