Israeli strike on Syria killed 3 regime loyalists

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Smoke and fire billow during an Israeli air strike on the outskirts of Damascus  in this file photo. — AFP
Smoke and fire billow during an Israeli air strike on the outskirts of Damascus in this file photo. — AFP

BEIRUT — A war monitor said on Monday that air raids in Syria the previous night, blamed on Israel, killed at least three foreign pro-regime fighters south of the war-torn country's capital.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday night's attack hit Syrian regime and Iranian positions south of Damascus.

It said three non-Syrian loyalist fighters were killed by a rocket blast between the suburb of Aqraba and the nearby Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood, home to a shrine revered by Shiite Muslims.

It did not specify their nationality but said they were likely Iranian.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported the attack just before midnight on Sunday.

It said Syrian air defenses fired on "hostile missiles" coming from "the Occupied Territories", referring to Israel.

It said one missile came down in Aqraba, southeast of Damascus.

Israel has not publicly claimed responsibility for the raids.

An Israeli army spokeswoman contacted by AFP said Israel does not comment on reports in foreign media.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria against Iranian targets and pro-Tehran militias allied with the regime of President Bashar Assad.

An Israeli strike on Nov. 20 killed 21 pro-regime fighters including 16 foreigners, along with two civilians, according to the Observatory.

In July, six Iranians and three pro-regime Syrian fighters were killed in reported Israeli missile strikes in the southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra, according to the Observatory.

A month later, the Israeli army carried out a strike in Aqraba, killing two Hezbollah and one Iranian fighter.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it began with anti-government demonstrations brutally crushed by security forces. — AFP


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