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Israeli strikes on Syria kill three soldiers: official media

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Damascus (AFP) – Israeli airstrikes on Syria killed three soldiers and injured three others on Friday, state media said, after the latest such incident in the war-torn country.

“The attack resulted in the death of three soldiers and three others injured,” the official Syrian news agency SANA said, citing a military source.

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as Iranian-backed allied forces and Hezbollah fighters.

The latest Israeli strikes targeted sites in the countryside around the capital Damascus and south of the coastal province of Tartous, SANA said, adding that Syrian air defense systems intercepted some of the missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor also reported the same number of deaths and injuries in strikes near an air defense base in Tartous province, where groups backed by Iran are active.

The targeted site in Tartous is located eight kilometers (five miles) from a Russian base, said the observer, who has an extensive network of sources in Syria.

He said ambulances had rushed to the scene of the strikes in Tartous.

In early July, the Syrian Defense Ministry said an Israeli strike carried out from the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Al-Hamadiyah, south of the city of Tartous, injured two civilians.

On Friday, Israeli shelling injured two civilians in southern Syria near the occupied Golan Heights, according to state media.

Last month, an Israeli strike near Damascus killed three Syrian soldiers, according to state media at the time. The Observatory said the strike targeted a military installation and an “Iranian arms depot”.

After the latest incident, Israeli authorities told AFP that they “do not comment on foreign media reports”.

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, the military has defended them as necessary to prevent archenemy Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The conflict in Syria began with the brutal suppression of peaceful protests and escalated to attract foreign powers and global jihadists.

The war killed almost half a million people and forced about half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.

Russia’s military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces once controlled only a fifth of the country.

Last month, the Observatory said a Russian airstrike killed seven people, including four children, in the Syrian rebel-held Idlib region in the north of the country.