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Three dead in Israeli strikes near Syrian capital — monitor

By AFP - Feb 11,2024 - Last updated at Feb 11,2024

A displaced Syrian child stands near a makeshift stove using wood twigs for cooking, at the Al Younani camp on the outskirts of the northern city of Raqqa, amid a shortage of fuel and gas, on Thursday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — Israeli air strikes that targeted a building in an upscale area near the Syrian capital killed three people early Saturday, a war monitor said.

State media reported that Syrian air defences responded to an Israeli "air attack".

Since Syria's civil war broke out in 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbour, mainly targeting Iran-backed forces, including Hizbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.

The strikes have increased since Israel's war on Gaza began on October 7.

In the latest incident three people were killed, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He could not immediately confirm whether the dead were fighters.

Rahman added that many other people were injured in the strikes on a neighbourhood hosting "villas for top military and officials".

The war monitor, which has a network of sources inside Syria, earlier reported the "Israeli attack" on "a residential building west of the Syrian capital Damascus", with the sound of "violent explosions".

State news agency SANA cited a military source saying that at around 1:05 am (22:05 GMT Friday), "the Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting a number of points in the Damascus countryside".

Air defences responded to the missiles and "downed some of them", the statement said, adding that the attack caused "some material losses".

The strikes came hours after an area near a military airport west of Damascus came under missile attack on Friday, the observatory said, while the defence ministry said drones had entered Syrian airspace from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The observatory did not say who was behind what it described as a "missile" attack.

"Positions belonging to Lebanon's Hizbollah and other pro-Iran groups are present" in the area, added the observatory.

A statement from the defence ministry said that at around 2:10pm on Friday, “two drones violated Syrian air space from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan”.

“Air defence systems confronted them and they were shot down west of Damascus,” the statement added, also without specifying who was behind the incident.

Contacted by AFP, the Israeli forces declined to comment on “reports in the foreign media”.

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