Four Hezbollah Militants Killed in Israeli Attack in Syria, Watchdog Says

After Syrian state TV blames Israel for airstrikes reportedly launched from area southeast of Beirut, Lebanese defense minister condemns violation of Lebanese airspace

Reuters
Jack Khoury
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Airstrikes over Damascus, Syria, file footage.
Airstrikes over Damascus, Syria, file footage. Credit: OMAR SANADIKI / Reuters
Reuters
Jack Khoury

Four Hezbollah militants were killed in an airstrike near Damascus on Thursday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said after Syrian state-owned television said Israel had carried out a missile attack.

An additional four civilians were killed in the attacks, Russian news outlet Sputnik reported.

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Syrian state-owned Ekhbariya TV and state news agency SANA said Syrian air defenses had confronted an "Israeli aggression" in the Damascus countryside.

A Syrian military source said in a statement "the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression this evening with bursts of missiles from southeast Beirut."

The statement added "targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Damascus and the vicinity of the city of Homs." The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the reported strike in Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said that the attack targeted Hezbollah weapons depots in the Al-Qalamoun area between Damascus and Homs. The missiles were reportedly launched from an area southeast of Beirut.

The sound of aircraft could be heard in and around Beirut.
Lebanon's Defense Minister Zeina Akar condemned the attack, saying that it "blatantly violated Lebanon's airspace at low altitude, causing a state of panic among citizens."

She said the attack violated UN Security Council resolution 1701 to resolve the 2006 Lebanon war, and she called on the UN to deter Israel from carrying out airstrikes on Syria using Lebanese airspace. Akar said she had sent a complaint to the United Nations.

The Syrian statement said its air defenses "confronted the aggression's missiles and shot down most of them, and the results of the aggression are now being audited."

During the airstrike, a plane belonging to Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines coming from Abu Dhabi had to hold in Syrian airspace for about 10 minutes before landing in Beirut, as did a plane from Turkey's Pegasus airlines, said Fadi Alhassan, acting general manager for Lebanon's civil aviation authority.

Thursday's attack comes after Israel struck targets near the Quneitra province on Tuesday, also according to Syrian media.

Videos posted on social media showing a missile or rocket exploding in the air were said to be taken from the Israeli side of the border, in the Golan Heights.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria on Iranian linked targets in recent years, saying it won't allow Iran to consolidate itself in the country.

In July, Syria accused Israel of conducting airstrikes twice within one week, including one on a weapons depot belonging to an Iran-backed militia outside Aleppo that killed five people employed by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

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