Al-Jazeera / February 19, 2023
Syrian media say Israel fired missiles on Damascus’s Kafr Sousa neighbourhood, killing five and wounding 15.
At least five people have been killed, 15 wounded and several residential buildings damaged in Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian capital Damascus, Syrian state media reported.
The raids early on Sunday hit a building in central Damascus’s Kafr Sousa neighbourhood near a large, heavily guarded security complex close to Iranian installations, Reuters news agency said, citing witnesses.
Loud explosions were heard over a central area of the capital around 12.30am (2130 GMT Saturday), and the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that Syrian air defences were “confronting hostile targets in the sky around Damascus”.
Citing a military source, SANA reported that five people had been killed, among them a soldier, along with “destruction of a number of residential buildings”.
“It caused damage to several civilian homes and material damage to a number of neighbourhoods in Damascus and its vicinity,” the army said in a statement.
Footage posted by state media showed that a 10-storey building was badly damaged in the attack, crushing the structure of its lower floors.
“The strike on Sunday is the deadliest Israeli attack in the Syrian capital,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a United Kingdom-based group that has a wide network of sources inside Syria.
Israel has not commented on the airstrikes which come more than a month after an Israeli missile attack hit the Damascus International Airport, killing four people, including two soldiers.
Israel targeting Syria
For almost a decade, Israel has been carrying out air attacks against suspected Iranian-sponsored weapons transfers and personnel deployments in neighbouring Syria. Israeli officials have rarely acknowledged responsibility for specific operations.
The raids — which in recent months have targeted Syrian airports and air bases — are part of an escalation of what has been a low-intensity conflict whose goal was to slow down Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, Israeli military experts say.
Iran has expanded its military presence in Syria in recent years and has a foothold in most state-controlled areas, with thousands of members of militias and local paramilitary groups under its command, Western intelligence sources say.
Commenting on the latest attack, Nasser Kanani, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson, blamed Israel for “trying to exacerbate the pain and suffering of the Syrian nation”.
“They are trying to exacerbate the pain and suffering of the Syrian nation at a time when it is faced with the effects of the recent destructive earthquake,” said Kanani, also calling on the UN Security Council to react to the strikes.
Iran’s proxy militias, led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, now hold sway in vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has never publicly acknowledged that Iranian forces operate on his behalf in Syria’s civil war, saying Tehran has only military advisers on the ground.
SOURCE: AL-JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Syria: Suspected Israeli strikes kill at least five in Damascus
Middle East Monitor / February 18, 2023
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts death toll at 15 and calls attack the ‘deadliest in the Syrian capital’ so far.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least 15 people were killed, including civilians, and others wounded in the “deadliest Israeli attack in the Syrian capital” so far.
The strikes took place just after midnight on Saturday and damaged several buildings in the densely populated area close to the Omayyad square in the heart of the capital.
“The sound of the impact was insane. It was terrifying,” a resident living in the neighbourhood told Middle East Eye.
“We felt our home shake, and the windows from the building across from us burst and shattered. It’s ruined to the bones,” she said.
A military source told official Syrian news agency Sana that waves of missiles came from the occupied Golan Heights and most of them were intercepted by Syrian defences. Sana said a soldier was among those dead.
An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment.
The London-based SOHR said the missiles targeted positions where Iranian-backed armed groups and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement are stationed in Damascus. They included an Iranian school in Kafr Susah.
Casualties and damage to buildings were reported in those areas.
For almost a decade, Israel has been carrying out air strikes against alleged Iranian assets in Syria. Israeli officials have rarely acknowledged responsibility for specific operations.
Iran has expanded its military presence in Syria in recent years and has a foothold in most state-controlled areas, with thousands of members of local paramilitary groups under its command, western intelligence sources say.
Israel has also in recent months intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt Iran’s alleged increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Hezbollah.
In January, Israeli strikes hit Syria’s national airport, putting it temporarily out of service and leaving two Syrian soldiers dead and two wounded.
The attack followed two other devastating attacks on Damascus International Airport in 2022.