11 Syrian troops killed in Israeli airstrikes

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At least 11 government troops and militiamen were killed by Israeli airstrikes in Syria late on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The strikes were the first carried out by Israel in Syria since 11 days of heavy fighting with the Hamas rulers of Gaza ended with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on 21 May, the Britain-based war monitor said.

“At least seven army soldiers and four National Defence Forces militiamen were killed,” Observatory chief Rami Abdul Rahman said, adding that all of the dead were Syrian.

The Observatory said the strikes targeted air force positions near the village of Khirbet al-Tin on the outskirts of Homs, as well as an arms depot belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The Israeli air force carried out strikes in several regions of Syria, in the capital Damascus as well as in Homs, Hama and Latakia provinces, the Observatory said, Dawn reported.

A Syrian military source was quoted on state media as saying the strikes targeted parts of central and southern areas, without elaborating on the locations, adding they left only material damage.

Some state media outlets said the strikes hit Homs province which also adjoins neighbouring Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed Hezbollah holds sway along the rugged border area.Western intelligence sources said Israels stepped-up strikes on Syria since last year are part of a shadow war approved by the United States. The strikes are also part of an anti-Iran policy that in the last two years has undermined Irans extensive military power without starting a major increase in hostilities.

The intelligence sources said that Israel has over the past year expanded its targets across Syria, where thousands of Iranian-backed militias have been involved in regaining much of the territory lost by Syrian President Bashar al Assad to insurgents in the decade-old civil war.

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