Children killed by Russian Syria strikes as Israel hits Damascus, says Observatory

Russia has struck targets in the last rebel area of north-west Syria, killing four children from one family and shattering months of relative calm

epa07023678 A handout photo made available by the Syria's Arab News Agency (SANA) shows a missile over the Damascus International Airport, in Damascus, Syria, 15 September 2018. According to State News Agency SANA reports, the Syrian Arab Army's air defenses responded to an alleged Israeli missile attack on Damascus International Airport and shot down a number of enemy missiles.  EPA/SANA HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Three soldiers and seven others were wounded in the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday in an attack that has been blamed on Israel, hours before Russian shelling in the north-west killed at least seven people, including four children, according to rescue groups and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Observatory said the Damascus attack was the 17th such attack on Syria this year.

Citing a military source, Syria's SANA news agency said Israel “carried out an aerial aggression” at half an hour past midnight, firing missiles from the Golan Heights targeting “a number of positions in the vicinity of Damascus”.

Syrian air defences intercepted several missiles, but some managed to evade the country's air defences, Syrian state media.

The attack also caused material damage, the military said, without clarifying.

The Observatory said Israeli missiles had been fired at targets including air force intelligence offices in the area of Mezze airbase on the western edge of Damascus.

An Iranian weapons store in the area of Sayyida Zainab — a shrine on the southern outskirts of Damascus — was also destroyed, said the war monitor, which reports on the war using what it describes as a network of sources on all sides.

Israel regularly carries out such attacks in Syria but rarely comments directly on such operations. On Friday, the Israeli military said it does not comment on foreign reports.

Israel has been carrying out strikes for years against what it has described as Iranian and Iran-backed targets in Syria, where Tehran has deployed forces in support of President Bashar Al Assad since the Syrian war began in 2011.

It has vowed to hit Iranian positions in Syria that threaten its troops in the occupied Golan Heights and has taken aim at shipments of advanced weapons from Tehran to its Lebanese proxy force Hezbollah.

The Syrian government last reported an Israeli attack on July 2 which it said targeted an area south of the Mediterranean city of Tartus and injured two civilians.

In June, Syria briefly halted flights to and from Damascus airport after saying an Israeli attack damaged the airstrip and a terminal.

Iran said two officers from its Revolutionary Guards were killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria in March, prompting Tehran to vow revenge

Meanwhile, the deaths in the north-west came from four strikes by aircraft identified as Russian by ground spotters in the countryside in Idlib, the last rebel-held zone in war-torn Syria, according to the Observatory.

The four children killed had been siblings, the UK-based group said.

The White Helmets rescue group gave the same figures and said another dozen people, among them eight children, had been wounded in the strikes.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since 2015, helping Mr Al Assad reclaim territory from rebels and extremist groups.

Such strikes had become increasingly rare in recent months, leading to a period of relative calm in the area, the war monitoring group said.

Updated: July 22, 2022, 9:53 AM