Syria says Israeli strikes in Damascus area kill 2 civilians

Beirut (AP) — Israel staged airstrikes on the southern suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus early Tuesday, killing two civilians and causing some material damage, Syrian state media reported.

Damascus residents said strong explosions were heard in the capital and its southern suburbs as Syrian state television reported that the country’s air defenses were confronting “an Israeli aggression.”

State TV, quoting an unnamed military official, said two civilians were killed in the strikes near Damascus and southern Syria, adding that some of the missiles were shot down by Syria air defenses before they reached their targets. It that the strikes also caused some material damage.

Israel’s shadow war with Iran in Syria intensified over the past days with four strikes on the Damascus area and the central province of Homs killing two Iranian military advisers since last week.

Hours after strikes on central Syria Sunday, the Israeli military said it shot down an “aircraft” that crossed from Syria into Israel’s airspace. The Israeli military said Iran appears to have been behind the drone that was shot down over Israeli airspace.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, including attacks on the Damascus and Aleppo airports, but it rarely acknowledges specific operations.

Israel says it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Along with airports, Israel has also targeted seaports in government-held areas in an apparent attempt to prevent Iranian arms shipments to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Hezbollah.