Israel Strikes Syria Twice in 24 Hours, Says War Monitor

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Airstrike in Syria, 2019 (illustration).
Airstrike in Syria, 2019 (illustration). Credit: SANA / AP

Explosions at a Syrian military base housing a weapons warehouse Friday were the result of “human error" while moving ammunition, the Syrian defense ministry said.

Ten civilians outside the base were hurt, a local doctor said.

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However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said the blasts at the base near the central city of Homs were caused by a suspected Israeli rocket attack. The group said Syrian air defenses were activated before the explosions, suggesting they were responding to an incoming attack.

The Observatory said the warehouse was used by Lebanon's Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the country’s nine-year civil war.

The attack follows overnight strikes by Israeli helicopters from the  Golan Heights on Iranian bases in southern Syria, according to the monitor and intelligence sources.

The overnight attack targeted several locations in the south of the country, and only made "limited material damage," SANA said. 

The combat helicopters allegedly attacked in the Tel Ahmar area south of Quneitra. No casualties among Syrian military personnel stationed in the area were reported.

According to websites affiliated with the regime, three military posts were targeted in the Quneitra area, on the border. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israeli strikes on a military base run by Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah, which lies on the Homs-Palmyra road, caused the series of blasts.

The war monitor echoed reports by residents of the area that the sounds of the explosions were heard across Homs city.

Friday's explosions wounded 10 civilians walking nearby, Homs health director Hassan al-Guindi told local Syrian media. Smoke columns could be seen from a distance and the sound of explosions echoed into Homs city.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi said it wasn't clear what caused the explosions.

Israel generally rarely confirms or denies such attacks, but it has been known to strike targets inside Syria from Israeli and Lebanese airspace in recent years, often aimed at Iran-linked militia. 

Earlier this week, four members of a pro-Iran militia and three civilians were killed in an Israeli air strike on a Damascus suburb, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor.

Last week, an opposition war monitor said that an alleged Israeli airstrike near the central Syrian city of Palmyra killed nine fighters, including six who were not Syrians and some who were loyal to the militant Hezbollah group.

On April 13, an Israeli drone fired two missiles at and near an SUV carrying members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group in Syria close to the border with Lebanon.

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