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Syria says Israeli air strike hits military position in Hama province

State news agency says three combatants wounded in attack but UK-based activist group says several Iranian fighters killed
A picture taken on 21 January shows Syrian air defence batteries responding to Israeli missiles targeting Damascus (AFP)

An Israeli air strike in central Syria wounded three combatants early on Saturday, according to state news agency SANA, as a UK-based activist group claimed several Iranian fighters had been killed in the attack.

"Around 2.30am (2330 GMT Friday) ... the Israeli air force carried out a strike targeting one of our military positions in the town of Misyaf," in Hama province, north of Damascus, SANA quoted a military source as saying.

"Our air defence batteries intercepted some of the Israeli missiles," the source said, adding that the strike "wounded three combatants and destroyed buildings".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike had killed several Iranian fighters and wounded 17 Syrian troops and their allies.

The observatory said the strike targeted a Syrian military college in the town and two buildings used by Iranian forces in nearby villages - in what it described as a development centre for medium-range missiles in Zawi and a training camp in Sheikh Ghadban.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the foreign media report.

Russian air-defence system

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, many of them deadly, against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

With the support of the US administration of President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed repeatedly to take whatever military action he deems necessary to prevent regional rival Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah establishing a continuing military presence.

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Late last month, Trump broke with decades of international consensus to recognise Israel's unilateral annexation of the strategic Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The move was a diplomatic prize for Israel but met with a chorus of opposition from US foes and allies alike.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have been fighting alongside the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the devastating eight-year war that has torn the country apart and killed more than 400,000 people.

They were joined in 2015 by Russia, which supplied its S300 air-defence system to Assad's forces after a Russian aircraft was downed by mistake by Syrian defence systems during an Israeli raid on 17 September, killing all 15 people on board.

After several months of frosty relations, Russia and Israeli resumed coordination of their military operations in Syria and Israel's bombing campaign picked up again.