An Israeli missile strike aimed at Iranian and Hezbollah targets killed 15 people and destroyed a building in a Damascus neighbourhood that is home to much of Syria’s security apparatus, according to reports.
AFP news agency reported quoting its sources that Sunday’s strike close to an Iranian cultural centre killed 15 people including civilians.
“Israeli missiles targeted sites including Iranian militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah,” AFP quoted its sources as saying.
During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against its neighbour, primarily targeting positions of the country’s army, Iranian forces, and Hezbollah, allies of the Damascus regime.
But it rarely hits residential areas of the capital.
Sunday’s strike hit in Kafr Sousa, home to senior officials, security agencies, and intelligence headquarters.
“At 00:22 am (2222 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an aerial aggression from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights targeting several areas in Damascus and its vicinity, including residential neighbourhoods,” The Syria regime’s defence ministry said in a statement.
The regime defence ministry confirmed at least five fatalities, among them a soldier, and at least 15 injuries, all of them civilians.
Israel’s military rarely comments on its strikes against Syria, but regularly asserts that it will not let Iran extend its influence to Israel’s borders.
The Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad receives military support from Tehran and its allied armed Shia groups including Hezbollah, which are declared enemies of Israel.
‘Deadliest Israeli attack’
Footage posted by regime media showed that a 10-storey building was badly damaged in the attack, crushing the structure of its lower floors.
Large chunks of the building had been thrown into the street below, which was strewn with cladding and metal fittings.
The images showed several of the building’s windows had been blown out.
“The strike on Sunday is the deadliest Israeli attack in the Syrian capital,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP news agency.
The attack comes more than a month after an Israeli missile strike hit Damascus International Airport, killing four people — including two soldiers.
The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful protests.
Nearly half a million people have been killed, and the conflict has forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.
Syria is currently seeking to recover from the February 6 earthquake, which did not affect the capital but which has killed more than 5,000 people in both the regime-controlled and opposition-controlled areas.