Syria: 2 civilians killed in Israeli airstrike near Damascus

Syria: 2 civilians killed in Israeli airstrike near Damascus
Syria’s defense ministry says two civilians have been killed by an Israeli airstrike on military positions near Damascus

Israel fired several missiles toward Syrian military positions near the capital of Damascus Monday, killing two civilians and causing material damage, Syria’s defense ministry said. It was the first Israeli attack inside Syria since Russia, a key backer of President Bashar Assad, invaded Ukraine.

The Syrian defense ministry said Israeli warplanes flying over neighboring Lebanon fired the missiles toward Syria, adding that Syrian air defenses shot down most of the missiles.

It gave no further details or say how the civilians were killed.

Israel did not comment on the attack and rarely acknowledges such operations. But it has launched hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria during its past decade of civil war.

Israel relies on Russia for security coordination in Syria, where Russia has a strong military presence, pushing Israel’s prime minister to search for middle ground between Russia and Ukraine. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has also assumed the unlikely role of mediator between Russia and Ukraine.

Monday’s attack was the first since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, sparking the current war. On that same day, three Syrian soldiers were killed in an Israeli attack near Damascus.

Israel says that its strikes inside Syria target bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, that fight on the side of Assad’s forces.