Seven Militants Killed in Israeli Strike on Syria, Reports Say

Last week, Israeli air strikes killed up to 23 Syrian government soldiers and allied militia ■ Earlier this week, Iran threatened Israel with 'crushing response' to any action against its Mideast interests

Image grab from a SANA release shows an explosion following an Israeli air strike on an undisclosed location in Syria, February 6, 2020
AFP

Syrian air defense systems were activated on Thursday evening following an attack near the Damascus Airport coming from the Golan Heights, the official Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

On Friday, the Al-Hadath news channel reported that seven militants were killed, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said the strike targeted Iranian-backed militias.

"Air defense systems were immediately put into action and downed a number of enemy missiles before they could reach their targets," the report said, quoting a military source. The same information was later confirmed by the army to Reuters.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said suspected Israeli missiles targeted posts for Iranian-backed militias in the area between the Damascus International Airport and the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood, south of the capital.

Later Friday, a news website affliated with the Syrian regime, Al-Quneitra Today, identified one of the victims of the attack as a Syrian pilot.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment on the overnight attack in Syria. "I don't know what happened overnight, maybe the Belgian Air Force carried out the attack. Our policy is to prevent Iran from establishing itself in Syria," Netanyahu said in an interview with Israel Radio.  

The Observatory said some of the missiles hit their targets. It didn't initially say whether there were any casualties.

Israel does not usually comment on reports concerning its airstrikes in neighboring Syria, though it has frequently attacked what it says are Iranian targets there.

On Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said "The Islamic Republic of Iran will give a crushing response that will cause regret to any kind of aggression or stupid action" from Israel against Tehran's interests in Syria and the region.

Last week, local media and observers reported that Israel had attacked military targets around Damascus, and on the Syrian border with Israel and Jordan. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 23 people were killed in the strikes, including three Iranians. Sana said eight soldiers were reportedly injured in the attack.