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Israel strikes kill Hizbollah fighter near Syria-Lebanon border: monitor

By AFP - Mar 01,2024 - Last updated at Mar 01,2024

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli air strike on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Ramia near the border with Israel, on Thursday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — Israel killed a Hizbollah fighter in a strike on Syria, close to the Lebanese border, also hitting near Damascus Thursday, a war monitor said, hours after similar attacks.

Hizbollah holds sway over Lebanon's eastern border with Syria, as well as some regions on the other side of the border including Qusayr, the target of Thursday's strike.

"An Israeli drone strike on a truck killed a Hizbollah fighter in the Qusayr area near the Syrian-Lebanese border," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At the same time, Israeli strikes targeted Syrian air defence and radar sites near Damascus, said the Britain-based monitor with a network of sources inside Syria.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard faraway explosions.

Syrian state media did not report the strikes.

Hizbollah and other Iran-backed groups have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces following the eruption of civil war.

Since Syria's war began in 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes against its northern neighbour, primarily targeting pro-Iran forces, among them Lebanon's Hizbollah and the Syrian army.

But the strikes have multiplied during the almost five-month-old war between Israel and the Palestinian fighter group Hamas.

Hizbollah said Thursday it had also fired a volley of rockets at a north Israel kibbutz, in retribution for earlier Israeli strikes that killed civilians in Lebanon's south.

The group said it fired "volleys of Katyusha rockets at the Eilon" kibbutz, near the southern border, in response for Israeli strikes on Kafra that killed a couple in their 70s on Wednesday night.

Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the Lebanon-Israel border have been displaced by nearly five months of fighting.

On Wednesday evening, Israel struck near Damascus, killing two Syrian pro-Hizbollah fighters, the observatory had said.

Last week, an Israeli strike on a truck in Syria near the Lebanese border killed two Hizbollah members, also according to the observatory.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to expand its presence in Syria.

Syria’s war has claimed the lives of more than half-a-million people and displaced millions since it broke out in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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