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Israeli strikes on Syria kill three soldiers, says state media

Another three people were wounded in the countryside strikes around the capital Damascus and south of coastal Tartus province
A partial view shows the coastline of Syria's port city of Tartus, on 24 July (AFP/File photo)

Israeli air strikes on Syria killed three soldiers and wounded three others on Friday, state media said, after the latest such incident in the war-torn country.

"The aggression led to the death of three soldiers, the wounding of three others," Syria's official news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.

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Since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes inside the country, targeting government positions as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

The latest Israeli strikes targeted sites in the countryside around the capital Damascus and south of coastal Tartus province, SANA said, adding that Syria's air defence systems intercepted some of the missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor confirmed the number of killed and wounded from the strikes near an air defence base in Tartus province, where Iranian-backed groups are active.

The targeted site in Tartus is located eight kilometres (five miles) from a Russian base, said the monitor, which has a wide network of sources in Syria.

It said ambulances had rushed to the scene of the strikes in Tartus.

In early July Syria's defence ministry said an Israeli strike conducted from the Mediterranean Sea near the town of al-Hamadiyah, south of Tartus town, had wounded two civilians.

On Friday, Israeli shelling wounded two civilians in southern Syria near the occupied Golan Heights, according to state media.

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Last month, an Israeli strike near Damascus killed three Syrian soldiers, state media said at the time. The Observatory said that the strike targeted a military facility and an "Iranian weapons depot".

After the latest incident, Israeli authorities told AFP that they "do not comment on reports in the foreign media". 

While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes in Syria, the military has defended them as necessary to prevent its arch-foe Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The conflict in Syria started with the brutal repression of peaceful protests and escalated to a global proxy war.  

Nearly half a million people have been killed and around half of the country's pre-war population have fled from their homes.

Russia's military intervention in 2015 helped turn the war in favour of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces once only controlled a fifth of the country.

Last month the Observatory said a Russian air strike killed seven people, four of them children, in Syria's rebel-held Idlib region, in the country's north.

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