Israeli air strikes kill two Syrian soldiers in Tartous

War monitor claims strikes hit army positions and Iran-linked weapons depot

The site of a previous suspected Israeli air strike on Tartous, Syria. Sana / AFP
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Israeli air strikes killed two soldiers in Tartous on Wednesday evening, Syrian state media reported.

Another six were reportedly wounded in the attack on air defence sites.

“At exactly 17.22 this afternoon, the Israeli enemy carried out strikes … from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea targeting some of our air defence sites in Tartous,” a military source told the outlet.

Israel is suspected to be behind hundreds of strikes on Syria in recent years, primarily against Iran-backed Hezbollah fighters but also regime positions.

Israeli officials rarely publicly acknowledge such strikes but have often spoken on curbing Iran's regional influence.

In May, Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said strikes on Iranian targets in Syria have doubled since last year, in a bid to prevent the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from gaining a foothold near the Israeli border.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed three people, including a militant, died in Wednesday's strikes, which it said also hit a weapons depot linked to Hezbollah.

Damascus blamed Israel for an air strike that forced Aleppo's airport to close in August.

Israel also regularly attacks suspected munitions depots and Iran-linked sites in and around the capital, including at Damascus airport.

Tehran has warned Israel will face “retaliation” for its strikes in Syria, and recently claimed it had foiled an Israeli plot to attack its missile industry.

“The criminal practices by the Zionist entity in the region will not remain without retaliation,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said during a visit to Syria last month.

Tehran has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad during the civil war, which has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions.

Last December, then-army chief of staff Aviv Kochavi admitted Israel was behind a November air strike on an Iranian arms convoy near the Iraq-Syria border.

It was the second time that year Mr Kochavi had acknowledged Israeli action in Syria. In January, he said Israel had struck Syria “hundreds” of times in 2021 alone.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 8:02 PM