Damascus, Syria – AFP
Israeli missile strikes killed at least two civilians before dawn on Monday near the Syrian capital Damascus, state media reported.
Israel carried out the strikes at around 5:00 a.m. (0300 GMT), hitting positions south of the capital, Syria’s official SANA news agency said, citing a military source.
“Our air defence systems intercepted the missiles, downing most of them,” SANA added.
“Two civilians were killed and some material damage was incurred,” it said, without elaborating.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit “a weapons and ammunition depot operated by Iran-backed militias near the Damascus international airport.”
The war monitor, which relies on an extensive network of sources inside Syria, said it could not confirm civilian fatalities.
According to the Observatory, Israel has carried out raids in Syria at least seven times since the start of the year.
Last month, Israeli raids near the capital killed two Syrian soldiers and four Iran-backed militia fighters, the Observatory says.
Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and fighters of Hezbollah.
While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, it has acknowledged mounting hundreds since 2011.
The Israeli military has defended the strikes as a necessary measure to prevent its arch-foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.
The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists. It has killed nearly 500,000 people.