Israeli attacks launched on targets near Damascus for the second time this week, Syria says

Israeli jets carried out airstrikes near the Syrian capital Damascus for the second time in less than a week on Thursday night, Syrian state media reported.

“An Israeli air strike was aimed at certain positions near Damascus,” the Syrian state news agency SANA said without reporting any casualties or damage.

Syrian air defense systems fired at the attacking Israeli plane, and residents in the area heard and felt many explosions, SANA said.

Shortly before the Syrian media reported, Israelis filmed near the northern border jets from the Israeli air force flying above.

The Israeli military usually does not comment on specific attacks in Syria, but has admitted to carrying out hundreds of tortures against Iran-backed groups seeking to gain a foothold in the country. It says it is also attacking arms shipments believed to be on its way to these groups.

The last air strike in Syria attributed to Israel was Saturday. It took place during the day, which is rare.

Local reports said explosions were seen near the town of Masyaf in the government-controlled Hama province. Photos on social media showed large smoke flags in the area.

The Masyaf area is believed to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel.

The area is also home to a facility belonging to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which itself has been hit several times before.

Western officials have long associated CERS with the manufacture of chemical weapons. According to the United States, saringas were developed in this center, an accusation denied by the Syrian authorities.

In early March, Israeli attacks near Damascus killed two officers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The guards promised to avenge the killings and subsequently launched attacks on what they claimed was an Israeli “strategic center” in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria, targeting Iranian forces and Iran-allied terrorist groups, particularly along the Golan border.

The Israeli attacks continue from the Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even since Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine.

Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly spoken out in support of Ukraine. However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided criticizing Russia directly as Israel seeks to preserve its freedom of movement in the Syrian sky.

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