Israeli strikes killed 23 Iran-backed, foreign fighters in Syria

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Israeli air strikes near Damascus and in the south of Syria on Thursday killed 23 Syrian and non-Syrian fighters aligned with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a Britain-based war monitor said.

The new toll for the pre-dawn strikes included three Iranians and seven Tehran-backed foreign fighters near Kisweh south of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Eight Syrian air defence forces lost their lives west of the capital, while five Syrian members of pro-Iran group were killed in the southern province of Daraa, it said.

A Syrian army source quoted by state news agency SANA said air defenses responded to two waves of Israeli strikes after midnight that targeted the Damascus area and then positions in Daraa and the adjacent province of Quneitra.

The source said the attack wounded eight fighters, without elaborating on their rank or nationality.

An Israeli army spokesman contacted by AFP early Thursday declined to comment on the strikes.

Iran and its allied proxy Hezbollah have sent militants to fight alongside the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the nine-year-old war in Syria, which started by the regime's deadly oppression of peaceful protests.

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