BEIRUT (AP) — Israel carried out airstrikes early Thursday near Damascus, wounding eight soldiers, Syrian state media said, while an opposition war monitoring group said the strikes targeted army positions as well as Iran-backed fighters, killing 23.
State news agency SANA said 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.
SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying that eight soldiers were wounded in the airstrikes, adding that they also caused material damage.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the Syrian war through a network of activists on the ground, said the airstrikes took place after midnight. 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, according to the Observatory.
The Observatory said the strikes killed 23 Syrians and non-Syrian Iran-backed fighters, adding that the deaths happened in the southern province of Daraa and suburbs of the capital Damascus. It said the dead included three Iranian fighters as well as eight Syrian soldiers.
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.