More than 40 people killed in Israeli strikes on Syria’s Aleppo: Reports

Attacks have escalated amid continuing war in Gaza and clashes with Hezbollah across Israel-Lebanon border.

Israeli air strikes on Syria’s northern province of Aleppo have killed more than 40 people, most of them soldiers, according to news agencies and a war monitor.

The fatalities included six members of Hezbollah, the Lebanese armed group confirmed on Telegram.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) put the death toll at 42 and said dozens of people were injured. The Reuters news agency reported that 38 people were killed.

The attacks about 1:45am on Friday (22:45 GMT on Thursday) targeted several areas in Aleppo’s countryside, Syria’s Ministry of Defence said. It did not provide casualty figures, only saying a number of civilians and military personnel were killed and property was damaged after Israel and unnamed armed groups carried out the strikes, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.

The SOHR, an opposition war monitor, said in posts on X that Israeli strikes hit a weapons depot near Aleppo International Airport, resulting in a series of large explosions.

At least 36 Syrian soldiers were killed, it said, adding that Hezbollah weapons depots were located in the area.

The Israeli military has not confirmed the attacks.

Reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr said while Syrian state media did not reveal the target, activists on the ground said Syrian soldiers and fighters from Hezbollah, which has a military presence in Syria, were killed.

“Recently, we have seen almost consecutive Israeli strikes in Syria as it widely hits Iranian targets in Syria,” Khodr reported.

Damascus allies Russia and Iran slammed the Israeli strikes.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow considers the strikes a flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty.

Zakharova said such actions were “fraught with extremely dangerous consequences” in the light of a sharp escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Iran also said they were a “violation of Syria’s sovereignty” and “a serious threat to regional and international peace and security”.

Israel ‘sending clear message’

Israel for years has carried out strikes in Syria, where Iranian-aligned groups, including Hezbollah, hold sway in eastern, southern and northwestern areas of the country as well as the suburbs around the capital, Damascus.

Its attacks have escalated since the start of the current war in Gaza in October, and it has also struck Syrian army air defences and some Syrian forces.

Marc Owen Jones, associate professor of Middle East Studies at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said Israel’s air strikes in Syria show that despite its growing global isolation, it is not afraid of regional escalation.

Israel is trying to weaken “Hezbollah’s ability to fire and attack from northern Lebanon by attacking storage targets in Syria,” Owen Jones told Al Jazeera.

“But Israel is also sending a clear message” that, despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling on Thursday ordering it to act to stop famine in Gaza and the United States’s frustration over its policies in Gaza, it will not back down from confrontation.

“Israel wants to reaffirm that they are still willing to attack Syria so they won’t look weak,” Owen Jones added.

On Friday, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the strikes were a clear violation of international law and the sovereignty of Syria.

In a statement on Telegram, the ministry said such raids were a serious threat to regional and international peace and security, calling on the international community to condemn them.

Israel has recently had “a much more aggressive posture, conducting more, and less constrained attacks, in terms of casualties”, Khodr said.

Several members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have also been targeted in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it backed President Bashar al-Assad in the war that erupted there in 2011.

Israel and Hezbollah have been trading near daily fire across their border since the war erupted in Gaza, the biggest escalation since they fought a month-long conflict in 2006.

In a new strike in southern Lebanon, the Israeli military on Friday said it killed Ali Abdel Hassan Naeem, the deputy head of Hezbolla’s rocket and missiles unit.

In a post on X, the military claimed Naeem had taken part in planning and operating attacks on Israeli territory.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies