Sources: Israel Bombs Hezbollah Targets in Syria

From Sulayman al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) – Israel fired missiles at several military targets outside the capital Damascus early on Tuesday, the Syrian Defense Ministry said, in what intelligence sources in the region and two Syrian sources described as intensifying attacks on Lebanese Hezbollah strongholds. group.

Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles and shot down some of them, causing some “material damage,” the ministry added in a statement.

Two informed Syrian military sources said Israel targeted a Hezbollah ammunition depot near the town of Yabrud in the Qalamoun Mountains, northeast of the Syrian capital.

It was the second attack in less than 48 hours on the same mountain range, which stretches into Lebanon and cuts several key Hezbollah supply routes into Syria.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with the Israeli army since militants from the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) attacked southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7.

A Western intelligence source said another strike was carried out near the town of al-Qatifah, 40 kilometers east of Damascus, in the same area where Hezbollah forces are holed up.

The source, who requested anonymity, added to Reuters, “It is clear that these latest strikes are targeting Hezbollah's infrastructure in Syria, particularly its strongholds along the Lebanon-Syria border.” He also pointed to the most recent raid in the border town of Qusayr, where Hezbollah maintains security control through checkpoints.

An Israeli military spokesman could not be reached for comment.

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Iran is one of the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the 13-year-old Syrian conflict. Tehran's support for Damascus and Hezbollah has prompted Israel to launch repeated airstrikes aimed at curbing Iranian military power.

Western and regional intelligence sources say Israeli strikes in Syria have claimed the lives of dozens of Hezbollah fighters and other armed groups fighting on behalf of and defecting from groups loyal to Iran, which are in the eastern suburbs and south of Damascus. Southeastern Syria.

Since October 7, Israel has expanded the nature of targets and their depth into Syrian territory to include Syrian military camps in Dara Governorate in the south, from which mortar shells are occasionally launched along the northern border. Israel.

The strikes are concentrated around the Albucamal border crossing east of Deir ez-Zor, a key supply route for Iraqi Shiite militias in and out of Syria.

Syrian and Western intelligence sources said Israel had stepped up its missile strikes in the capital's heavily guarded Sayyida Zeynab area, home to a major Shiite shrine and where high-ranking militia leaders are known to be stationed.

At least six Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers were killed during the strikes, most of them in the Sayeda Zeinab area, and several Hezbollah operatives were also killed.

Hezbollah says at least 20 militants have been killed in Syria since the October 7 attack.

The current conflict mirrors the worst of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, known as the July War in Lebanon.

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