During the night Tuesday Israel conducted a “wide-scale” strike on Syria, focused in and around Damascus, resulting in a soaring casualty count according to the AP.
“A Britain-based war monitoring group said the Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians,” the AP initially reported, though Syrian state media cited two civilians killed among multiple wounded. That number was revised Wednesday morning to at least 23 people, most said to be “non-Syrians” — likely Iranians, according to reports.
The Israeli military said it had hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, specifically missile and weapons warehouses, after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said rockets were “fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria”.
International reports have described the attacks as the most intense since a similar operation last January. Over the past months what were previously somewhat frequent Israeli raids inside Syria had grown quiet.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases. After the Syrian military fired an air defense missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were also destroyed.
Damascus residents are outraged after a direct hit on a civilian home Wednesday night, which included children among the wounded, as the AP reports:
Syria’s state SANA news agency said the two civilians were killed by shrapnel when an Israeli missile hit a house in the town of Saasaa, southwest of Damascus. It said several others were wounded, including a girl in a residential building in the suburb of Qudsaya, also west of the Syrian capital.
Syrian air defenses were active during the assault, with the Syrian Army saying it downed multiple inbound Israeli rockets.
Official media said Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were able to successfully “intercept and destroy most of the hostile missiles before reaching their targets.”
However, Israeli statements disputed this, with an Army statement sayingup to “dozens” of targets were hit, including an Iranian base at Damascus International Airport.
Meanwhile, Russia condemned the raid as “an unnecessary escalation of tensions” and as “very wrong” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
“Recently, the intensity of Israeli rocket and bomb attacks on Syrian territory have increased sharply…This development evokes the most serious concern and opposition in Moscow. We consider it critically important to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and other states in the region,” the foreign ministry said.