Syrian media: Israel strikes Iran-backed positions in Syria


BEIRUT (AP) — Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes early on Thursday near Damascus, Syrian state media said, while an opposition war monitoring group said the strikes targeted army positions as well as Iran-backed fighters and inflicted casualties.

The state news agency SANA said the Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles in the suburbs of the capital and the country's south before they reached their targets. It said the Israeli warplanes fired the missiles while flying over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and neighboring Lebanon.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the Syrian war through a network of activists on the ground, said the airstrikes that occurred after midnight on Wednesday. They hit Syrian army positions and those of Iranian-backed militiamen west and south of the capital, as well as the Mazzeh military air base in Damascus. the Observatory said.

A "large number of missiles" hit multiple positions in these areas, triggering a fire at the Scientific Research Center in the Damascus suburb of Jamraya. The Observatory said the strikes inflicted casualties but had no definitive figure.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Israel does not usually comment on reports concerning its airstrikes in neighboring Syria, though it has recently acknowledged striking Iranian targets there. Iranian-backed fighters, including those of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, have joined Syria's war and are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's government forces.