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Israel bombs Syria and shrapnel from retaliatory missile hits Rahat city

War monitor says Israeli air strike kills an Iranian soldier while Syrian rocket leaves minor damage inside Israel
Israeli authorities inspect the remains of what the military said is a Syrian anti-aircraft rocket that exploded in the air, in the town of Rahat, Israel, 2 July 2023 (AP)

Suspected Israeli jets bombed sites in Syria early on Sunday and was met with an anti-aircraft missile which exploded in Israeli airspace, with shrapnel hitting areas in the southern city of Rahat. 

The Syrian army said that at around midnight it repelled an aerial attack from Israel on some sites in Homs, which caused material damage, according to the official Syrian news agency Sana. 

A retaliatory anti-aircraft missile was launched from Syria into Israel and exploded mid-air. Remnants of the rocket fell in Rahat city, causing minor damage to a building but no injuries.

In response, the Israeli military said it struck a Syrian air defence battery from where the missile was launched. 

It didn't comment on the earlier air strikes in Homs. The Syrian army did not confirm the second Israeli raid.

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The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the Homs-area strikes targeted Hezbollah sites and ammunition depots. 

At least one member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was killed and four others wounded, it added. 

The IRGC and Hezbollah did not immediately comment on the reports. 

In Israel, footage shared online purportedly shows shrapnel in different locations in Rahat. 

Attorney Ra'ed Aloubrah from the southern Israeli city said shrapnel struck a home near him, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz

"We sat at home and suddenly heard an unusually strong explosion... Here in the south, we're used to rockets flying overhead, but something like this we have not experienced," he said.

"No ambulances came, nobody checked if anyone was traumatised. There was a direct rocket hit and nobody from Home Front Command came, no one even came from the city to speak to people. It doesn't make sense."

Israel has conducted hundreds of deadly air strikes in Syria since 2011, targeting government troops, alleged Iranian assets and members of Hezbollah. 

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. 

Earlier this year, Israel 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.

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