Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Israeli Airstrike Kills 40 Syrians Including Hezbollah, Syrian Troops and Civilians

HomeWARIsraeli Airstrike Kills 40 Syrians Including Hezbollah, Syrian Troops and Civilians

DAMASCUS, Syria — A blistering wave of Israeli airstrikes pulverized a cluster of weapons depots used by the Lebanese Hezbollah militia near Aleppo before dawn on Friday, killing more than 40 people in one of the deadliest such raids during Syria’s long civil war, a war monitor reported.

The Israeli missiles slammed into the militant group’s underground munitions bunkers in the towns of Jibreen and Al-Safirah south of Aleppo city, detonating a series of massive explosions that shook the area. Plumes of smoke billowed skyward as secondary blasts rocked the sites for hours afterward.

“This was an absolutely ferocious bombardment,” said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict through sources on the ground. “The Israeli missiles just kept coming, one after another, leveling Hezbollah’s depots.”

At least 36 Syrian soldiers and 6 Hezbollah fighters were killed in the onslaught according to the Observatory’s initial toll. But with rubble still being cleared, the number of dead was expected to rise further. Dozens more were wounded, some critically.

“This is the highest death toll among Syrian forces in any single Israeli strike in the war,” Abdulrahman said. “The intensity of the bombardment was just staggering.”

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility from Israel, which has launched hundreds of airstrikes at Iranian-linked targets inside Syria during the 13-year conflict. However, the Israeli military has routinely prevented Iran’s allies like Hezbollah from establishing a permanent front-line presence or ferrying advanced missiles and drones into Syria.

Israel’s shadow war against Iran’s proxies has intensified sharply since its devastating air campaign began against Palestinian militants in Gaza four months ago. Over 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, the highest toll since the 2014 war, including many civilians according to human rights groups.

Friday’s strikes came just two days after Israel bombarded military sites around Damascus used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, killing 5 Iranian personnel. An Iranian unmanned drone had previously penetrated Israeli airspace in the occupied Golan Heights before being shot down.

The Syrian state news agency SANA reported that “civilians” were among the casualties in Aleppo, without providing numbers. But it accused Israel of a “fresh zionist aggression” in blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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Sana said the Israeli missiles were fired from warplanes over the Mediterranean. They struck around 1:45 a.m. local time after drones had conducted initial surveillance over the target areas.

Dramatic videos posted on Syrian social media showed the night sky over Aleppo lit up in an orange blaze, as larger secondary explosions intermittently flared. Huge fireballs erupted from the missile stores as the Israeli ordnance found its mark.

A Syrian military source told state TV the national air defenses had tried to repel the strikes but were overwhelmed by the bombardment’s intensity. Several surface-to-air missile batteries were also taken out, according to the Observatory.

In the aftermath, rescue teams pulled bodies from the blasted facilities while combing through rubble for survivors. Hezbollah ambulances raced from the scene carrying the wounded to hospitals in Aleppo under tight security lockdown.

Among the dead was a veteran Hezbollah commander identified only as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, according to a Syrian military defector. His brother died in an Israeli strike in Lebanon last November, underscoring the mounting toll the militia has suffered.

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While based in Lebanon, Hezbollah has deployed thousands of fighters to Syria to support President Bashar Assad’s forces during the brutal civil war that has killed over 500,000 people and displaced millions as refugees. Israel has vowed it will not allow Hezbollah to gain a front-line foothold in Syria bordering the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah has also increasingly been caught in the crossfire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, exchanging rocket barrages across the Lebanese border. Over 270 Hezbollah fighters have been killed by Israeli strikes in Lebanon during the recent Gaza conflict, according to the group.

With Israeli civilians still being held hostage in Gaza, Israel has escalated its campaign to degrade militant groups’ capabilities, including their Iranian-supplied weapons pipelines.

The Syrian Observatory said the Aleppo strikes represented a significant blow to Hezbollah’s ammunition stockpiles and distribution hubs inside Syria, disrupting supply lines from its patron Iran. However, analysts warned the group may try to retaliate, risking further escalation entangling regional powers.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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