Israeli air strikes near Damascus and in the south of Syria yesterday killed 23 Syrian and non-Syrian fighters aligned with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, a Britain-based war monitor said.
The new toll for the pre-dawn strikes included three Iranians and seven Tehran-backed foreign fighters near Kisweh south of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Eight Syrian air defence forces lost their lives west of the capital, while five Syrian members of pro-Iran group were killed in the southern province of Daraa, it said.
Israel did not comment, but it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years to stop Iranian “military entrenchment”.
Iran and its proxies, including the Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, are supporting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil war.
Last month, Damascus accused the Israeli air force of carrying out an attack on the T4 airbase in central Syria, which the Observatory said killed at least three Iran-backed militiamen.
In December, the Observatory said Israeli air strikes killed three foreigners fighting alongside government forces south of the capital.
The previous month, the Israeli army claimed responsibility for a wave of air strikes against Syrian military sites and Iranian forces that killed 23 people including 16 foreigners.
The war in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of pro-democracy protests.
The reported Israeli strikes come as government forces press a blistering offensive against Syria’s last major rebel bastion, in the Idlib region in the northwest.
The Syrian army source said the strikes would not deter government forces from retaking the region, which is dominated by jihadists of Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate.