Syria: Israeli air strikes kill eight soldiers in Daraa amid rocket fire accusations

Syria: Israeli air strikes kill eight soldiers in Daraa amid rocket fire accusations
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Israel has launched several strikes into Syria during its war on Gaza, amid fears of an escalation in the region.
Israel has occupied the Golan Heights region of Syria since 1967 [Getty]

Israeli strikes killed eight soldiers in southern Syria on Wednesday, Syrian regime media reported, in what the Israeli army claimed was a response to earlier rocket fire.

Persistent rocket and artillery exchanges with Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah as well as Palestinian factions across Israel's northern borders with Lebanon and Syria have raised fears of a new front in Israel's war in the besieged Gaza Strip, where at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli strikes.

Palestinian factions in Syria's south have exchanged cross-border fire with Israel several times since last week.

"Around 1:45 am (2245 GMT Tuesday), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression from the occupied Golan Heights," Syrian regime media said.

The strikes also wounded seven soldiers and caused material damage, the reports said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor with a wide network of sources on the ground in the war-ravaged country, put the number of dead soldiers at 11, including four officers.

It said the strikes "destroyed arms depots and a Syrian air defence radar" and also targeted an infantry unit.

On Tuesday evening, the Observatory had said "fighters loyal to Hezbollah," which fights alongside regime forces in the Syrian conflict, had "launched rockets towards the occupied Syrian Golan" from Syria's southern restive province of Daraa.

The Israeli army said its "fighter jets struck military infrastructure and mortars belonging to the Syrian army in response to the launches towards Israel yesterday (Tuesday)".

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Israeli threats

Residents in Daraa province told AFP that Israeli planes dropped leaflets after the strike, warning the Syrian army and Palestinian factions against launching attacks towards Israel.

"Syrian commanders bear full responsibility for operations incoming from Syrian territory," the leaflets read, threatening that every attack "on the state of Israel will be met with an iron fist".

Israeli strikes on Sunday put out of service Syria's two main airports, in Damascus and Aleppo, Syrian state media said.

Since October 7, Israel has launched is most vicious strikes in 70 years on the Gaza Strip, where the death toll is rapidly increasing and where humanitarian conditions have reached a breaking point.

During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbour, primarily targeting Hezbollah fighters and other Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian regime army positions.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes it carries out on Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-foe Iran, which backs President Bashar al-Assad's regime, to expand its presence.

Israel has illegally occupied much of the Golan Heights in the Six-Day war of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the United Nations.