Israel strikes Syria's Aleppo killing dozens of soldiers and Iran-backed militants

Attack came as Israel intensified its strikes against Hezbollah and pro-Hamas groups in Lebanon

Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on Syria since the country's civil war began in 2011. EPA
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Dozens of Syrian soldiers and Hezbollah members were killed in an Israeli air strike on north-western Aleppo province on Friday, in one of the biggest attacks against Syria and the Iranian-backed group since the start of the war in Gaza.

The attack came as Israel intensified its strikes on Hezbollah and pro-Hamas militant groups in neighboring Lebanon, raising fears that the recent escalation might widen the regioal conflict.

The strike hit an area "close to rockets depots belonging to Lebanese group Hezbollah" near Aleppo's international airport, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 42 Syrian army soldiers and six members of Hezbollah were killed, the highest death toll from an Israeli attack on Syria in three years, the Observatory reported.

Israel didn't comment on the attack.

Footage appears to show moment Israel bombed Aleppo

Footage appears to show moment Israel bombed Aleppo

A Syrian military source in Aleppo told The National that the Israeli planes fired several missiles "towards the Jibreen area, which contains a number of factories, the most important of which is the grain factory, which was directly targeted".

Eyewitnesses said that many residents fled their homes, and that the sound of the explosions made them think that the entire city was being bombed.

Sources said it took more than five hours to put the fire out, especially at the Syrian army's grain factory and ammunition depots.

A source close to Hezbollah said that the Israeli strikes "are not separate from the escalation approach followed by the Netanyahu government, especially in recent days, in Lebanon and other parts of Syria".

The Observatory also reported strikes targeting "defence factories" controlled by pro-Iran groups elsewhere in Aleppo province.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the strikes were a "violation of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are a serious threat to regional and international peace and security". He called the attacks "a blatant and desperate attempt to continue and expand the crisis in the region".

Iran's embassy in Damascus said Israel had killed "innocent civilians" and members of the Syrian army, while destroying residential areas of Aleppo.

According to Syria's Defence Ministry, dozens of civilians and military personnel were killed and injured in the strike that happened at about 1.45am local time.

The ministry said that the Israeli strike hit "a number of points in the Aleppo countryside, coinciding with a drone attack carried out by terrorist organisations from Idlib and the western Aleppo countryside, in an attempt to target civilians in the city of Aleppo and its surrounding areas".

Meanwhile the Israeli military said on Friday it had killed Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, deputy commander of Hezbollah's rocket and missiles unit, in an air strike in the area of Bazouriye in Lebanon.

Hezbollah confirmed his death without revealing his rank.

Israel said he was one of the Iranian-backed militia's leaders in heavy-warhead rocket fire and responsible for planning and conducting attacks against Israeli civilians.

Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on Syria since the country's civil war began in 2011. The frequency of the attacks has increased since the start of the conflict in Gaza on October 7.

On Thursday, two people were killed in an Israeli air strike on a residential building near Damascus, Syrian state media reported. Sana news agency also said "material damage was caused as a result of an Israeli aggression".

Fighters with Iran-backed groups, including Hezbollah, control vast areas of eastern, southern, and north-western Syria and several areas near the capital.

Israel and Hezbollah have traded fire across the Israel-Lebanon border since the war erupted in Gaza. The clashes are the biggest escalation in tensions since they fought a deadly month-long conflict in 2006.

The escalation in hostilities has led to increased fears of a full-on conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. Ten paramedics were among 16 civilians killed in Lebanon in three separate attacks on Wednesday, marking the highest civilian death toll for one day since the cross-border conflict between Hezbollah and Israel erupted nearly six months ago.

Updated: March 29, 2024, 4:56 PM