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Israel attacks Syria’s Homs, wounds five soldiers: Ministry

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Israel has launched air raids on outposts in Syria’s Homs province, wounding at least five soldiers, according to the Syrian defence ministry.

The raids early on Sunday were the third in recent days, including an attack on Friday that killed two Iranian Revolutionary Guards military advisers, according to Iranian semi-official Mehr news agency.

Israel launched “an aerial aggression from the direction of northwest Beirut targeting some outposts in Homs city and its countryside at 00:35 am” (21:35 GMT), the Syrian defence ministry said in a statement on state media.

Syrian air defences intercepted the missiles and shot down some of them, it said.

A Syrian military source said on state media that the attacks caused some material damage with five military personnel injured.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the report, according to the Reuters news agency.

Without referring to any specific places or strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is “exacting a heavy price from terrorist-supporting regimes” outside of its borders. He was speaking to his cabinet in televised remarks.

Two Western intelligence sources who requested anonymity told Reuters that the rocket strikes targeted the T4 air base located west of the ancient city of Palmyra, and al-Dabaa airport near al-Qusayr city near the Lebanese border, an area with members of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Iranian military personnel alongside fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah are stationed at both airports and there is a strong presence of pro-Iranian militias in that area of Homs province, the sources said.

Reuters said it was unable to verify the authenticity of the claims.

Syria denies Western and Israeli allegations that Iran, whose top military officials frequently visit Syria, has an extensive military presence in the country.

Israel has for years carried out attacks against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran’s influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict that began in 2011 following a brutal crackdown of peaceful demonstrators.

Israel has intensified raids in the last year on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt what it says is Iran’s use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to militias.

An Israeli air attack last month targeting the airport in Aleppo put it out of commission for two days. The airport has been a main conduit for aid shipments since the deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on February 6.

Western intelligence sources have said Iran is increasingly using several civilian airports to deliver more arms, taking advantage of heavy air traffic as cargo planes offload relief aid following the deadly earthquake.

Iran declined to comment on the Western and Israeli accusations.

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