Israel Kills 2 ‘Islamic Jihad’ Members in Damascus Strike
An Israeli airstrike in Damascus overnight killed two members of the Palestinian “Islamic Jihad”, the armed group said on Monday.
Israeli fighter jets launched airstrikes on suspected “Jihad” positions in Syria just before midnight on Sunday after the militant group and Israeli forces clashed around Gaza earlier in the day.
In a rare acknowledgment of operations in neighboring Syria, Israel said its warplanes attacked “Jihad” targets south of Damascus, in addition to sites in the Gaza Strip.
It said the sites attacked were used for “research and development of armaments” that are manufactured in Syria and Gaza. It said the sites also produce dozens of kilograms of rocket fuel each month.
The military said the attacks "were carried out in response to the attempted attack this morning on the security fence (in Gaza) and the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel."
“Islamic Jihad” said in a statement that the airstrikes killed two of its members, identifying them as Salim Salim, 24, and Ziad Mansour, 23. It did not disclose their nationalities or elaborate on their roles.
The group vowed to retaliate.
Residents said multiple explosions shook Damascus for about 15 minutes as air defenses fired back.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict, said the explosions resulted from Israeli bombing of suspected Iranian-backed militias in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.
The Syrian state news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying Israeli aircraft entered Syrian airspace and targeted areas around Damascus with a wave of guided missiles.
Syrian state-run al-Ikhbariya television aired footage of what it said were explosions in the Damascus night sky showing Syria's air defense system shooting down missiles.
The Syrian military source said most missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets and the aftermath of the strike was being assessed.
Israel frequently strikes at targets inside Syria, but has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations there.
In November, Israel targeted two senior “Jihad” commanders in a simultaneous attack, killing one in the Gaza Strip and missing the second in Syria. At the time, Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at the home of Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the group’s leadership living in exile. He was not harmed, but his son and granddaughter were killed.