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Suspected Israeli air strikes kill seven pro-government fighters in Syria: Report

Two soldiers reported killed in southern province of Sweida and five pro-Iranian fighters left dead in Deir Ezzor
The Israeli government rarely acknowledges or claims responsibility for its air strikes in Syria (File pic - AFP)

Seven fighters, including two Syrian soldiers, were killed in suspected Israeli strikes on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"Five pro-Iranian fighters were killed in a strike on a military centre belonging to pro-Tehran militias" on the Sokhna-Deir Ezzor road in eastern Syria, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

He said many others were injured, with several in critical condition.

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Two air force soldiers were killed in another raid on a telecommunications centre in the southern Sweida province, the UK-based activist group said.

Syrian media also confirmed the raids.

"Several hostile missiles were fired at our military positions in Kababej, west of Deir Ezzor and in the Al-Sukhna region," a military source quoted by the official Sana news agency said, using Damascus' common term for Israeli attacks.

"At the same time, one of our military positions was targeted near the town of Salkhad in the southern city of Sweida, resulting in the death of two martyrs and the wounding of four other soldiers," the source added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP that the military "does not comment on foreign [media] reports".

Kababej is on the main highway that links Deir Ezzor to the capital Damascus. Salkhad is near the Jordanian border.

'Keep dreaming'

For the past few years, Israel has been carrying out regular attacks against alleged Iranian targets in Syria, but the Israeli government rarely acknowledges or claims responsibility for the air strikes.

The attack comes as the US administration intensifies its sanctions campaign against the Syrian government and its Iranian allies.

Last week, the US Caesar Act, a law that targets businesses linked to the Damascus-led reconstruction efforts in Syria with crippling sanctions, went into effect.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem vowed that the government would withstand the sanctions.

"If they were dreaming that Syria and its people would bow to their conditions, then I would say let them keep dreaming because this will never happen," Muallem told a news conference in Damascus.

Syria President Bashar al-Assad would remain in power "as long as the Syrian people want him to", Muallem added. Assad has been facing an uprising that turned into a devastating civil war since 2011. 

Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as Iranian forces, have been openly fighting alongside Syrian government forces against rebels and militant groups since 2013. Tehran's intervention in the Syrian war has put its forces and proxies in close proximity to Israel, raising the ire of the Israeli government and its American partners.

Last month, Iranian officials refuted Israeli accounts that Tehran was withdrawing its forces from Syria. 

"There has been no change in the quantity and quality of Iran's advisory presence in Syria. We will stay in Syria as long as the Syrian government needs the help of the Iranian advisers," a military source told Fars News Agency.

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