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Israeli strikes on Syria kills three soldiers: state media

A handout picture released by Syria's official SANA news agency on July 2, 2022, shows a crater caused by a reported Israeli air strike in the western Syrian coastal city of Tartus
— Damascus (AFP)

Israeli air strikes on Syria killed three soldiers and wounded three others on Friday, state media said, after the latest such incident in the war-torn country.

"The aggression led to the death of three soldiers, the wounding of three others," Syria's official news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.

Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

The latest Israeli strikes targeted sites in the countryside around the capital Damascus and south of coastal Tartus province, SANA said, adding that Syria's air defence systems intercepted some of the missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor also gave the same toll of killed and wounded from the strikes near an air defence base in Tartus province, where Iranian-backed groups are active.

The targeted site in Tartus is located eight kilometres (five miles) from a Russian base, said the monitor, which has a wide network of sources in Syria.

It said ambulances had rushed to the scene of the strikes in Tartus.

Two missiles also struck a Syrian government military site in the Al-Qutayfah area in the Damascus countryside, the monitor said.

In early July Syria's defence ministry said an Israeli strike conducted from the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Al-Hamadiyah, south of Tartus town, had wounded two civilians.

On Friday, Israeli shelling wounded two civilians in southern Syria near the occupied Golan Heights, according to state media.

Last month, an Israeli strike near Damascus killed three Syrian soldiers, state media said at the time. The Observatory said that strike targeted a military facility and an "Iranian weapons depot".

After the latest incident Israeli authorities told AFP that they "do not comment on reports in the foreign media."

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, the military has defended them as necessary to prevent its arch-foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to pull in foreign powers and global jihadists.

The war has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country's pre-war population from their homes.

Russia's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favour of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces once only controlled a fifth of the country.

Last month the Observatory said a Russian air strike killed seven people, four of them children, in Syria's rebel-held Idlib region, in the country's north.

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