Syria condemns Israeli strike that left two soldiers wounded
DAMASCUS (Reuters) -Syria’s foreign ministry on Thursday condemned an overnight Israeli missile attack that hit near the capital Damascus, wounding two soldiers and causing material damage.
Syrian state television, citing a military source, reported that a number of missiles were launched from the Golan Heights and that Syrian air defences had shot down some of them.
The foreign ministry condemned the attack in a statement later on Thursday, saying it was Israel’s “attempt to escape internal fragmentation” in an apparent reference to recent protests that saw hundreds of thousands rally against a judicial overhaul that was ultimately delayed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said it was the fifth Israeli strike on Syria this month. Israeli authorities declined to comment.
Syrian authorities did not specify what type of area had been hit. Israel has for several years been mounting attacks on what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria.
An opposition source with contacts on the ground said the strikes hit a car carrying pro-Iran personnel near a Syrian security building near Kafr Sousa.
On March 22, an Israeli strike near the northern Aleppo airport put it briefly out of service. Regional intelligence sources said the attack hit an Iranian arms depot.
Iran-backed groups then fired rockets at a base hosting U.S. forces in the northeast, killing one American contractor and wounding another, as well as several troops. The U.S. responded with air strikes on installations in eastern Syria that it said were affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Tehran-backed forces, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have established an entrenched presence around the Syrian capital as well as in the country’s north, east and south as they helped President Bashar al-Assad fight back insurgents.
Other attacks in recent weeks have targeted the capital.
On Feb. 19, an Israeli strike hit a building in the central Damascus neighbourhood of Kafr Sousa, killing five.
Sources told Reuters that it hit an installation where Iranian officials were meeting to advance programmes to develop drone or missile capabilities of Tehran’s armed allies in Syria.
Residents of Damascus wrote on social media early on Thursday that a series of loud booms could be heard over some districts.
“I was going to die of fright,” said Lana, a Syrian woman who was spending the night with her infant son in a hospital in the Damascus district of Mazzeh.
“The sound made me feel like the whole hospital was going to collapse on us,” she told Reuters.
(Reporting by Kinda Makieh in Damascus, Maya Gebeily in Beirut, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Yomna Ehab and Enas Alashray in Cairo; Editing by Leslie Adler, Christian Schmollinger, Alison Williams and Christina Fincher)