Eight killed in Israeli strike in Syria, reports say

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday that eight people were killed in an alleged Israeli missile strike over Damascus.

Earlier, Syrian air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile strike over Damascus, the Syrian capital, Syrian state media reported, while military defectors said the missiles may have targeted Iranian-backed militias.

“Syrian air defenses intercepted an Israeli aggression coming from Lebanese airspace,” state media said. Earlier, state media said large explosions were heard.

The incident came nearly a month after Syrian state TV reported that an Israeli helicopter had opened fire on a home in the Syrian Golan Heights, days after it also reported a similar attack by an Israeli helicopter in Quneitra. Also early last month, Syrian state media reported that Israel had fired missiles at towns near Latakia, a regime stronghold and the site of a Russian air base, killing one person and wounding six. 

In late April, Syria attributed an attack near Damascus to Israel, and that same night an anti-aircraft missile launched by Syria toward an Israeli jet exploded near Dimona in southern Israel. Israel’s military said the missile, which set off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor, was the result of a misfire and not a deliberate attack. Earlier in April, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said Israel had carried out a missile attack near Damascus that killed at least three pro-Iranian fighters.

Western intelligence sources said Israel’s stepped-up strikes on Syria since last year are part of a shadow war approved by the United States. The strikes are also part of an anti-Iran policy that in the last two years has undermined Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.

The intelligence sources said that Israel has over the past year expanded its targets across Syria, where thousands of Iranian-backed militias have been involved in regaining much of the territory lost by Syrian President Bashar Assad to insurgents in a nearly decade-old civil war.