An Israeli rocket hit a building in central Damascus’ Kafr Sousa neighbourhood in Syria early on Sunday morning. The missile struck near a heavily guarded security complex close to Iranian installations in which five people were killed, according to witnesses and officials.
The targeted strike by Israel, a rare occurrence, damaged several buildings in the densely populated district close to Omayyad square in the heart of the capital, where multi-storey security buildings are located within residential areas.
A police official told state media that several people were killed and injured in the incident. An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment to Reuters.
The state media cited a military source in reporting that Israel had carried out air strikes targeting several areas in the capital shortly after midnight which killed five civilians and left 15 others injured, while also causing damages to several residential buildings.
The army said in a statement, “It caused damage to several civilian homes and material damage to a number of neighbourhoods in Damascus and its vicinity.”
Meanwhile, it has not come to the fore immediately whether the strike was aimed at a specific individual or a group.
It may be noted that pro-Iran Hezbollah’s top commander Imad Moughniyeh was killed in 2008 in a bombing in Kafr Sousa, which is a heavily policed area where residents say several Iranian security agencies are located.
Israel has been carrying out air strikes against suspected Iran-sponsored weapons transfers and personnel deployments in neighbouring Syria for almost a decade. Israeli officials have rarely taken responsibility of any such specific operations.
This has been amidst Iran’s expansion of its military presence in Syria in recent years and has a foothold in most state-controlled areas, with thousands of members of militias and local paramilitary groups under its command, as per sources in Western intelligence.
In recent months, Israel has also intensified air strikes on Syrian airports and air bases in a bid to disrupt Iran’s increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The strikes are an escalation of a low-intensity conflict whose goal was to slow down Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, said Israeli military experts.
Iran’s proxy militias, led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah now hold sway in vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.
The Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad has never publicly acknowledged the presence or the operation of Iranian forces on his behald in Syria’s civil war, stating Tehran has only military advisers on the ground.