03/07/2022, 15.57
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Israel hits military targets on the outskirts of Damascus, killing two civilians

This is Israel’s first military operation since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Heavy material damage was reported. Israeli raids are carried out with the tacit agreement of Moscow, an ally of Syrian President Assad. Russia has a substantial military presence in Syria. Bennett met Putin.

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Israel launched an attack against sensitive targets near Damascus, the capital of Syria, the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Syrian state television reported.

Early this morning, Israeli planes fired missiles that killed two civilians and caused material damage. Syrian air defences shot down most of the missiles but some scored a hit. Military installations on the outskirts of Damascus and nearby infrastructures suffered heavy damage.

The attack began at 5 am, just over 24 hours after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has already caused thousands of deaths and over 1.5 million refugees. Talks centre on how to reach a ceasefire, something that still appears very remote.

Russia is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has a large military presence in that country, but allows Israel to carry out operations against targets in Syria.

This is why Israel has remained neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and is trying to get the two sides to talk, steps deemed necessary to safeguard its relatively unrestricted access to Syrian airspace with Kremlin’s approval.

According to SANA, Syria state news agency, Israeli fighters fired missiles from Lebanese airspace, killing two civilians and causing serious material damage near the capital. Nothing is known about the victims and their involvement in the military operation.

Israel last hit Syria on 24 February, just hours before Moscow launched its assault on Ukraine. Three Syrian soldiers died on that occasion.

Israel targets pro-Iranian armed groups and Iranian allies, particularly those deployed near the Golan Heights, as well as Shia-dominated Hezbollah and its armed wing.

Last month, Israel also reportedly fired ground-to-ground missiles at an observation post and a finance building near the border town of Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.

In the past, Israel has carried out numerous attacks on Syrian and Lebanese territory, usually after receiving the green light from the US and Russia. During his presidency, US President Donald Trump was a staunch ally of then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Syria alone, Israel carried out 50 operations against strategic objectives in 2020, this according to Israeli government sources; however, Israel rarely issues any official confirmation or denial.

The situation has not changed since Democrat Joe Biden moved into the White House. So far, the latter has tolerated – if not authorised – Israeli military operations across the border, which the new Bennett government has continued after he took over from Netanyahu in June 2021.

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