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Syria: Suspected Israeli strikes kill at least five in Damascus

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts death toll at 15 and calls attack the 'deadliest in the Syrian capital' so far
A member of the Syrian security forces checks a crater caused by a reported Israeli missile strike in Damascus, on 19 February 2023 (AFP)
A member of the Syrian security forces checks a crater caused by a reported Israeli missile strike in Damascus, on 19 February 2023 (AFP)

At least five people were killed in suspected Israeli air strikes that hit residential neighbourhoods and other locations in the Syrian capital Damascus, state media reported on Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said at least 15 people were killed, including civilians, and others wounded in the "deadliest Israeli attack in the Syrian capital" so far.

'The sound of the impact was insane. It was terrifying'

- Damascus resident 

The strikes took place just after midnight on Saturday and damaged several buildings in the densely populated area close to the Omayyad square in the heart of the capital.

"The sound of the impact was insane. It was terrifying," a resident living in the neighbourhood told Middle East Eye.

"We felt our home shake, and the windows from the building across from us burst and shattered. It's ruined to the bones," she said.

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A military source told official Syrian news agency Sana that waves of missiles came from the occupied Golan Heights and most of them were intercepted by Syrian defences. Sana said a soldier was among those killed. 

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment.

The London-based SOHR said the missiles targeted positions where Iranian-backed armed groups and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement are stationed in Damascus. They included an Iranian school in Kafr Susah. 

Casualties and damage to buildings were reported in those areas. 

The Russian foreign ministry strongly condemned the strikes, calling them a "flagrant violation" of international law.

"We strongly urge the Israeli side to stop armed provocations against the Syrian Arab Republic and refrain from steps that are fraught with dangerous consequences for the entire region," spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

For almost a decade, Israel has been carrying out air strikes against alleged Iranian assets in Syria. Israeli officials have rarely acknowledged responsibility for specific operations. 

Iran has expanded its military presence in Syria in recent years and has a foothold in most state-controlled areas, with thousands of members of local paramilitary groups under its command, western intelligence sources say. 

Israel has also in recent months intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt Iran's alleged increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Hezbollah.

In January, Israeli strikes hit Syria's national airport, putting it temporarily out of service and leaving two Syrian soldiers dead and two wounded. 

The attack followed two other devastating attacks on Damascus International Airport in 2022. 

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