Middle East

Syrian groups report Israeli airstrikes near Damascus

Israeli fighter jets bombed areas west of Damascus late Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reports. Fighting alongside the Syrian army, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia group Hezbollah has been a frequent target of Israel’s airstrikes.

“Israeli planes targeted the Jamraya region near Damascus, including a scientific research center and warehouses where weapons and ammunition of the regime and its allies were stocked,” Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the Britain-based SOHR, told the AFP news agency.

A witness told the Reuters news agency that three strong explosions boomed from the direction of Jamraya late Monday. Another witness reported thick smoke rising over the area.

‘Israeli missile attack’

State media also implicated Syria’s neighbor when reporting the strikes. “Our air defenses are confronting an Israeli missile attack on one of our sites in the Damascus suburbs, and three of the targets were downed,” the state news agency SANA reported. The attacks apparently happened at about 11:30 p.m. (2130 UTC) local time on Monday.

Syrian officials have blamed Israel for several strikes — including a 2013 strike on the same facility that was reportedly attacked on Monday. An Israeli military spokeswoman told news agencies that Israeli officials would not comment on foreign reports. They have, however, acknowledged carrying out previous airstrikes in Syria to stop arms deliveries to Hezbollah forces since the outbreak of the country’s multifront war more than six years ago.

In 2014, forces loyal to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Israel of targeting the area surrounding the Damascus International Airport. And, in a 2016 incident initially denied by Syria’s military, the SOHR reported that forces had come under “Israeli bombardment” near Damascus.

In September, Israel attacked a regime military site linked to the production of chemical weapons. In October, Israeli officials said planes had attacked Syrian government artillery after fire from across the armistice line hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, warning that such retaliation would only increase. On Saturday, Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles had struck a military position south of Damascus.

mkg/se (Reuters, AFP)

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