Israeli strikes in Syria kill 5 fighters

Israeli soldiers work on tanks in the Israeli controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria on July 28. (AP pic)

BEIRUT: Israeli strikes on military targets south of the Syrian capital Damascus on Monday killed two soldiers and three allied fighters, a war monitor said.

State news agency Sana said “the Zionist enemy carried out a strike … on some of our military positions south of Damascus and our air defences confronted them” late Monday.

“The Israeli attack led to two martyrs being killed and seven soldiers being wounded,” the source said, adding the fire had come from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said another three non-Syrian fighters were also killed.

It said the missiles targeted positions of pro-government Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and allied Syrian fighters southwest of Damascus and in the southern province of Daraa.

Israel has carried out hundreds of raids in Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, against Tehran-aligned Hezbollah and Iranian forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as government forces.

The Israeli army rarely acknowledges the strikes but said that on Aug 3 it had used fighter jets, attack helicopters and other warplanes to hit Syrian military targets in southern Syria.

Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday warned the group would kill an Israeli soldier for each of its fighters slain by the Jewish state, after one of its combatants was killed in an Israeli strike in Syria on July 20.

Nasrallah on Sunday said a “decisive decision” had been taken but that Hezbollah was “not in a hurry”.

His statement came after a series of incidents on the Lebanese-Israeli frontier.

Israel said Wednesday it had launched airstrikes against Hezbollah observation posts in Lebanon after shots were fired from across the border.

Hezbollah also announced the previous weekend it had brought down an Israeli drone flying over the border.

Hezbollah has fought several wars against Israel, though a ceasefire has largely held since 2006 and a UN peacekeeping force patrols along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier.

Syria’s war has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since it started with the repression of anti-government protests.