Israeli strike targeting Hezbollah kills 36 Syrian soldiers

Israeli strike in Aleppo

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a March 29th Israeli air strike on Syria’s Aleppo targeting Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, killed at least 42, with 36 being Syrian soldiers — the deadliest toll for the army since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Arab News and agencies

“Israeli strikes” targeted “a rockets depot belonging to Lebanon’s Hezbollah” close to Aleppo airport, the UK-based organisation — which has a network of sources inside Syria — explained.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) also quoted a military source, reporting that “at approximately 1:45 am, the Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the direction of Athriya, southeast of Aleppo.” It added that “civilians and military personnel” were killed and wounded.

Contacted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) from Jerusalem, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it would “not comment on reports in the foreign media.”

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The Observatory also reported additional strikes targeting “defence factories” controlled by other pro-Iran, Aleppo-based groups.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes following October 7th. Damascus and Hamas ally Hezbollah largely remains the target of these attacks, and has consistently fought alongside Damascus throughout the civil war.

March 29th’s attack came just hours after another reported strike in the Damascus countryside. Syrian state media reported the deaths of two civilians killed in an “Israeli air attack that targeted a residential building” on March 28th.

The airstrikes targeted the Sayyida Zeinab area — a stronghold of pro-Iran armed groups south of the capital — the Observatory reported. They also said that 19 people — mostly pro-Iran fighters including two advisers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — had been killed in strikes on the Deir Ezzor province on March 26th.

Israel has exchanged near-daily with Hezbollah from across the Lebanese border since the start of the Gaza war. Additionally, Israeli raids in Syria seek to cut off Hezbollah supply routes into Lebanon. 

READ: UN Syria commission says violence at four-year high

Cross-border fire has killed at least 346 people since October, consisting mostly of Hezbollah fighters but also at least 68 civilians, according to an AFP tally. Hezbollah, predominantly Shiite, has committed to the fight against Israel, recently joining forces with a rival Sunni militant and political group to do so. 

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people in both southern Lebanon and in northern Israel, where the military reported the deaths of 10 soldiers and eight civilians. The UN has repeatedly contemplated expanding the buffer zone between both nations to minimise casualties. 

The Syrian government’s brutal suppression of a 2011 uprising triggered a conflict that has killed more than half a million people and drawn in foreign armies and jihadists. One of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) workers was killed in the resulting strikes — which the Observatory blamed on Israel — after initially not saying who carried them out.

Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, but has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran’s expansion into the country.

The Arab News and agencies

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