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Israeli strikes in Syria kill 7, including pro-Iran fighters: monitor

Israeli strikes in Syria on Monday killed seven people, including pro-Iran fighters, a war monitor said, in the latest such attack in the country against groups loyal to Tehran. “Israeli strikes targeted a base belonging to Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, killing seven people” including pro-Iran fighters, said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Two of those killed were Syrian, including a security escort to an Iranian officer, he said, adding it was unclear whether civilians were among the dead in the attack, which struck Sayyida Zeinab, south of Damascus. The Syrian defence ministry also reported an “air attack” which it blamed on Israel. It said strikes around 1:00 pm (1000 GMT) targeted multiple locations south of Damascus. It said in the statement, posted on social media, that “a number of Iranian advisers” were killed, before later revising it to remove any mention of the Iranian advisers. Iran’s Tasnim news agency, meanwhile, reported that “the Zionist regime (Israel) targeted an Iranian advisory centre in the Sayyida Zeinab area”. However, Hossein Akbari, Iran’s ambassador to Syria, denied in a social media post that an advisory centre had been struck or that “any Iranian citizens or advisers (were) martyred” in the attack. A previous air strike in Sayyida Zeinab in late December, also blamed on Israel, killed a senior Iranian general. Quds Force commander Razi Moussavi was the highest-ranking Iranian general to be killed outside the country since a January 2020 US drone strike in Baghdad killed the elite force’s chief Qasem Soleimani. And on January 20, a strike on Damascus’s Mazzeh neighbourhood targeting the Revolutionary Guards’ Syria spy chief killed 13 people, the Observatory had said. The Guards confirmed five members were killed in that attack, which they blamed on regional arch-foe Israel. During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes in the country, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions. But such attacks have intensified since the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7. Israel rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad’s government, to expand its presence there. Since 2011, Syria has endured a bloody conflict that has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions. Iran says it only deploys military advisers in Syria at the invitation of Damascus.

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