Israel struck a heavily-guarded neighborhood in Damascus, Syria, early Sunday morning, killing at least five people, according to Syrian state news. Loud explosions were heard over the capital around 12:30 a.m. local time.
The strike hit central Damascus’s densely populated neighborhood of Kafr Sousa, a heavily guarded area where residents say several Iranian security agencies are located, including a major cultural centre. At least five people were killed, with a soldier among the five dead, SANA reported, citing a military source. At least another 15 people, all civilians, were wounded, several of whom were listed in critical condition. The source said that the missile came from the direction of Golan Heights.
Footage posted by state media showed a 10-story building badly damaged, with its lower floor structures crushed. The rocket strike “caused damage to several civilian homes and material damage to a number of neighborhoods in Damascus and its vicinity,” the Syrian army said in a statement.
Israel has, for almost a decade, been carrying out hundreds of air strikes in state-controlled parts of Syria. Tel Aviv says targeted strikes in Syria are part of efforts to resist the Iranian regime’s foreign interference in Syria. It was not immediately clear whether the strike was aimed at a specific individual.
The air strikes early Sunday morning were the first since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6. Israel has in recent months intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt suspected efforts by the Iranian regime to funnel weapons into Syria.