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Report: Suspected Israeli strike targets Hezbollah in Syria

A Syrian war-monitoring group said Friday suspected Israeli strikes hit a military base overnight in central Syria housing Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group alongside other factions allied with the Damascus government.

It was not clear if there were any casualties at the Dabaa air base and surrounding areas in central Homs province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The base, north of the town of al-Qusair near the border with Lebanon, was captured by Hezbollah in 2013 from rebels, marking a turning point in the group’s role in the Syrian war.

Syria’s state media reported late Thursday that a military base in central Syria came under attack from “enemy” fire and that Syrian air defenses responded. State SANA news agency reported loud explosions at the Dabaa airbase.

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The Israeli military is believed to be behind dozens of airstrikes in recent years against Hezbollah, Iran, and Syrian military positions. The U.S. and Israeli governments have viewed Iran’s role in Syria as a threat to Israel and have threatened action.

Syria’s government forces have relied on support from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and other regional militias to fight Syrian rebels and Islamic State militants in the conflict, now in its eighth year.

The Observatory also raised the death toll from Wednesday night airstrikes in eastern Syria to 14 pro-government fighters, all but two foreign nationals. The Syrian-run media blamed the U.S-led coalition fighting IS for the strikes on military positions between the towns of Boukamal and Hmeimeh in the eastern Deir el-Zour province.

The Observatory said it also suspects coalition aircraft were behind the attack but the Pentagon said it had “no information” to substantiate such reports.

The U.S-led coalition and the Syrian opposition it backs, as well as Syrian government troops and allied militias are separately fighting IS remnants still holed up in country’s east. Iraqi forces have also collaborated with both the Syrian government and the U.S-led coalition against IS. On Friday, Iraq said its warplanes struck two sites belonging to IS in eastern Syria.

The U.S.-backed forces are operating east of the Euphrates River and the government and allied troops west of it. But they have come to blows at times.

In February, U.S. military launched rare airstrikes and artillery rounds against Syrian government-backed troops after as many as 500 attackers started what appeared to be a coordinated attack on U.S.-backed Syrian forces and U.S. advisers in Deir el-Zour. U.S. officials said the strikes were in self-defense after pro-government forces began firing artillery and tank rounds at the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. About 100 of the attackers were killed, including a number of Russian contractors.

The Observatory reported a series of explosions late Tuesday in government-held neighborhoods in the city of Deir el-Zour, which the regime captured late last year from IS. The Observatory said it believed they were U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. There was no immediate comment from the coalition.

Source: ABC News

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