Israeli strikes in Syria kills 9 pro-regime fighters after Assad forces down missiles

Israeli strikes in Syria kills 9 pro-regime fighters after Assad forces down missiles
Fighting over Syria has intensified, as Israeli forces clash with regime fighters.
2 min read
21 April, 2020
The conflict continues amid the coronavirus pandemic [Getty, stock image]

Israeli air strikes late Monday near the central Syrian city of Palmyra killed nine fighters loyal to the Iran-backed Damascus regime, a war monitor said Tuesday.

Those who died in several missile strikes included three Syrians and six foreigners of unknown nationalities, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

This comes less than a day after Syrian air defences downed Israeli missiles over the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province, state media reported on Monday.

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria targeting government troops as well as allied Iranian forces and fighters from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

"Air defences confronted an Israeli aggression over Palmyra and intercepted several hostile missiles," SANA said.

The missiles were downed before they could hit their targets, it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the targets were "military posts for Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert."

The monitor did not report any casualties.

Contacted by AFP, an Israeli army spokesperson declined to comment.

Late last month, Syrian air defences intercepted an Israeli missile attack also targeting Homs province in the centre of the war torn country.

The Observatory said the target was a military airport where Iranian forces are present.

It is rare for Israel to claim responsibility for such strikes directly.

The Jewish state says Iran's presence in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

The latest attack came only hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Assad in Damascus to discuss regional developments in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Iran's foreign minister used a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday to call on the U.S. to lift sanctions imposed on both countries, during his first visit to the war-ravaged country in a year.

Iran has been a close ally of Assad in Syria's long and brutal nine-year-long conflict, lending the regime in Damascus vital military and economic support. Most of the war’s hundreds of thousands of casualties have been killed by regime forces.

Iranian-backed regime reinforcements have recently been sent to the frontlines in Idlib, the last rebel held area of Syria, with a view of launching a new offensive on rebel positions, according to the Syrian opposition news site Baladi News.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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