Five dead in Japan plane collision: transport minister
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Israel launches air strikes in Syria: state media

Israel launched pre-dawn air strikes near the Syrian capital on Tuesday, state media said citing a military source, at a time of heightened regional tensions over the Gaza war. Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Israel had targeted a military position that also housed members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah, near the town of Kanaker. Syria’s official news agency SANA said that around 4:35 am local time (0135 GMT) “the Israeli enemy carried out air strikes from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting a number of sites in the Damascus countryside”. It cited an unnamed military source as saying the strikes caused only “material damage”, without specifying the target. Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow arch foe Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad’s government, to expand its presence there. The reported Israeli strikes were the year’s first in Syria, where it has intensified attacks in the wake of its war with Palestinian militant group Hamas. During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions. Recent months have seen regular cross-border exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, in southern Lebanon. Tehran in December accused Israel of a strike in Syria that killed Razi Moussavi, a senior commander in the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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