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Syria shoots down Israeli attackers over Damascus, kill 3 (UPDATE)

Israeli air strikes near the Syrian capital early Monday killed three civilians, state media said. "Three civilians were martyred and four others wounded, including a child, because shrapnel from Israeli missiles fell on houses" in the suburbs of Damascus, the official SANA news agency reported.

Syrian air defences had downed "most" of the Israeli missiles launched from Lebanese air space shortly before dawn, SANA said in an earlier report. Videos published on the agency's website purported to show the Israeli warheads exploding in the sky. An Israeli spokesperson declined to comment.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the attack hit positions of Iranian forces and fighters from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah south of Damascus. It said four such fighters were killed in the strikes.

Material damage and casualties were reported in Al-Kiswah and Sahnaya. One missile hit an Iranian site in Set Zaynab, but no information was available yet on the extent of casualties or damage.

The strikes targeted areas where headquarters and sites belonging to Iranian forces, the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group and militias loyal to Iran and Hezbollah are located, according to SOHR. Several sites were destroyed in the strikes. According to Al-Mayadeen, Israeli aircraft were flying at low altitudes over southern Lebanon during the time of the attack.

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in the country, targeting government troops as well as allied Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters, enemies of the Jewish state.

On April 20, SANA said Syrian air defences had downed Israeli missiles near the ancient city of Palmyra. The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, said the targets were "military posts for Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert".

That raid killed three Syrian fighters and six foreigners, according to the monitor, which was not able to determine their nationalities. Israel rarely confirms its operations in Syria but says Iran's presence in support of President Bashar al-Assad is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

Source: various agencies

Written by The Levant