Syria says Israeli strike kills 2 soldiers, wounds 7

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian Defense Ministry official said Israel’s military fired missiles Monday night on areas south of the capital Damascus killing two soldiers, wounding seven and causing material damage.

The unnamed Defense Ministry official, who was quoted by state media, said the strikes targeted military posts south of Damascus adding that Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles before they hit their targets.

The official said the missiles were fired from the area of Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The missile attack started at 10:40 p.m. (1940 GMT).

Residents of the capital Damascus said they heard explosions south of the city.

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An opposition war monitor said Israel’s military targeted military posts south of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian air defenses were responding to the attack.

Israel rarely comments on such reports, but is believed to have carried out scores of raids targeting Iran’s military presence in Syria. In the past three months alone, Syria has accused Israel of carrying out at least eight air raids on its territory. The last reported strikes came on July 20.

Iran is a key ally of the Syrian government in the nearly decade-long civil war. Israel views Iran as a regional menace and has vowed to prevent any permanent Iranian military buildup in Syria, particularly near the frontier.

In recent months, Israeli officials have also expressed concern that Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militant group that operates in Syria, is trying to establish facilities to produce precision-guided missiles. Tensions have also risen along the Israel-Lebanon border.

During last month’s strikes on Syria, a Hezbollah member was killed and the Lebanese militant group vowed to retaliate against Israel. On Sunday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to kill Israeli soldiers whenever Israel kills Hezbollah fighters in Syria.

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