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Israeli strikes launched at targets near Damascus for 2nd time this week, Syria says

Israeli jets carried out airstrikes near the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday night for the second time in under a week, Syrian state media said.

“An Israeli air raid targeted certain positions near Damascus,” Syrian state news agency SANA said, without reporting any casualties or damage.

Syrian air defense systems fired at the attacking Israeli aircraft, and residents of the area heard and felt many explosions, SANA said.

Shortly before the Syrian media reports, Israelis near the northern border filmed Israeli Air Force jets flying overhead.

As a rule, Israel’s military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups.

The last airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel was on Saturday. It took place during the daytime, which is rare.

Local reports said explosions were seen near the town of Masyaf in the government-controlled Hama province. Photos posted to social media showed large plumes of smoke in the area.

The Masyaf area is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel.

The area is also home to a facility belonging to the Scientific Studies and Research Center, known as CERS, which itself has been struck several times in the past.

Western officials have long associated CERS with the manufacture of chemical arms. According to the United States, sarin gas was developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities.

In early March, Israeli strikes near Damascus killed two officers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The Guards vowed to avenge the killings and subsequently launched strikes on what they claimed was an Israeli “strategic center” in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.

Since the civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria, targeting Iranian forces and Iran-allied terror groups, particularly along the Golan border.

The Israeli strikes have continued from Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even since Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine.

Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly spoken out in support of Ukraine. However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided criticizing Russia directly as Israel seeks to maintain its freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

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