Reports: Israel launches strikes in Syria, dozens killed

West Jerusalem has stuck to its usual policy of silence after allegedly killing 40 Syrian soldiers and Iran-backed fighters

The Syrian Defense Ministry has accused Israel of launching a series of airstrikes near Aleppo on Friday morning. The strikes, which West Jerusalem has not acknowledged, killed around 40 people, according to media reports.
“Around 1:45 am, the Israeli enemy launched an air attack from the direction of Athriya, southeast of Aleppo, targeting a number of points in Aleppo countryside,” the ministry said in a statement. The ministry provided no precise account of casualties or damages, but said that “a number of” civilians and military personnel were killed and wounded.
Reuters put the death toll at 38, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – an organization based in the UK and affiliated with anti-government militants in Syria – reported 43 deaths.
The SOHR claimed that the strikes targeted concentrations of Syrian soldiers and Iran-backed Hezbollah fighters, as well as a weapons depot located near Aleppo International Airport.

Israel has not commented on the attack, and usually remains quiet about its operations in Syrian skies. Elsewhere, the Jewish state typically takes credit for extraterritorial killings, as was the case later on Friday when an Israeli drone killed Hezbollah deputy missile commander Ali Abed Akhsan Naim in the southern Lebanese region of Bazouriye.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted a of the strike on social media, which showed a missile striking a car allegedly carrying Naim.
Hezbollah militants and Israeli soldiers have repeatedly engaged in tit-for-tat missile and rocket strikes since Israel launched its war on Gaza in October. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated in November that these attacks are aimed at tying up Israeli forces near the Lebanese border and creating “a state of anxiety, anticipation, panic, and fear among the enemy’s political and military leadership.” Shia militia groups in Syria have adopted , albeit on a smaller scale.
The frequency and intensity of these cross-border attacks have increased in recent days, however, with Israeli airstrikes killing 16 people – including seven paramedics – in southern Lebanon on Wednesday. The strikes were launched after Hezbollah fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, killing one person.