Israeli strikes kill two pro-Hezbollah fighters in Syria

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A plume of smoke rises during an Israeli strike on the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on December 1, 2023, as fighting resumed shortly after the expiration of a seven-day truce between Israel and Hamas militants. A temporary truce between Israel and Hamas expired on December 1, with the Israeli army saying combat operations had resumed, accusing Hamas of violating the operational pause. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Israeli air strikes killed two Syrian pro-Hezbollah fighters when they hit sites belonging to the Iran-backed group near Damascus early on Saturday, a war monitor told AFP. The strikes near Damascus came less than 24 hours after the end of a Gaza truce between Hezbollah ally Hamas and Israel.

“Two Syrian fighters working for Hezbollah were killed and seven other fighters working for the group were wounded in Israeli air strikes on Hezbollah sites near Sayyida Zeinab,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbour since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

But it has intensified attacks since its war with Hamas began in October. Hamas last year said it had restored relations with Syria’s government. The chief of the British-based monitor, which has a network of sources inside Syria, had earlier told AFP that Israel struck “Hezbollah targets” in the Sayyida Zeinab area south of Damascus. Syria’s defence ministry had also said Israel hit near the Syrian capital, with an AFP journalist in Damascus reporting the loud sound of bombings.

“At approximately 1:35 am (2235 GMT) today, the Israeli enemy carried out an air assault from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points near the city of Damascus,” the defence ministry said in a statement, reporting no casualties. Syria state television had reported an “Israeli aggression near the capital”.

The Israeli army did not comment when contacted by AFP.

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