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Israeli Strike Reported on Iranian Targets Near Damascus

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A column of smoke arising from a reported Israeli strike on a military target near Damascus, Syria, May 10, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Omar Sanadiki. – Israeli warplanes struck targets in the Damascus area on Sunday night, according to official Syrian media.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted an unnamed military source as saying that Syrian air defenses were activated when Israel launched a missile strike from over the Golan Heights at 10:16 pm. The source said the strike had targeted “some posts in the vicinity of Damascus.”

UK-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday that targets were hit in the area around Sayyidah Zaynab. The town, located six miles south of Damascus, is known to be a major stronghold of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, according to SOHR.

There were no further details reported with regard to casualties or material damage. There was no comment on the report by the Israeli military.

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The alleged Israeli airstrikes come after an Israeli-owned cargo vessel was hit by an explosion in the Gulf of Oman on Friday, just hours after US strikes in Syria against sites that the Pentagon claims were being used by Iranian-backed militias.

The US strikes, the first military action undertaken by the administration of President Joe Biden, were in retaliation for rocket attacks earlier in the month on American targets in Iraq. SOHR reported that 22 people were killed in the airstrike, most of whom were members of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias.

Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Avivi Kochavi was quoted by Channel 12 on Sunday as saying that the attack on the MV Helios Ray was a “reminder” from Iran.

“Over the weekend we received a reminder that Iran not only poses a nuclear threat, but is spreading terrorism and carrying out terrorism and actions against civilian targets,” said Kochavi.

According to the Channel 12 report, Israel now believes the cargo vessel was not hit by a missile, but rather that a mine was attached to the hull by Iranian commandos. Israeli vessels worldwide have been put on alert, and have received classified directives instructing them to modify their behavior to prevent further attacks, according to the report.

The last reported Israeli airstrike in Syria was on Feb. 15, when SANA reported “waves of missiles” being fired at targets in the Damascus area. According to SOHR, six non-Syrians were killed in the attacks.

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