Attacks in Syria escalate during pause in Geneva talks


BEIRUT — Israel fired surface-to-surface missiles at a military post near the Syrian capital of Damascus early on Saturday, causing damage but no casualties, Syria’s state-run news agency reported. The strike came as violence resumed in the Damascus suburbs after days of calm while the government and opposition delegations attended peace talks in Geneva.

The Israeli military did not comment on the missile attack, which occurred shortly after midnight Friday, targeting a military area near the southern Damascus suburb of Kiswah.

SANA, the state news agency, said the missile attack caused structural damage but gave no details. The report also said Syrian air defenses shot down two of the Israeli missiles.

Israel has carried out a number of air strikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the civil war.

Israel has also struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In September, Israeli warplanes hit a military position near the Mediterranean coast in western Syria, killing two soldiers and causing damage.

Rami Abdurrahman who heads the opposition’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missile attack targeted an arms depot near Kiswah where the Syrian army’s 1st Division is based.

He added that Iranian soldiers and Hezbollah fighters are present in the area but added that it was not clear if they were targeted.

Also in the suburbs of Damascus, government forces resumed their air strikes and bombing of rebel-held areas on Saturday, killing and wounding several people, according to the Observatory and a Syrian Civil Defense search-and-rescue group, also known as the White Helmets.

The Observatory said six people were killed in Saturday’s government air strike on Arbeen while the White Helmets said air strikes on the suburb of Harasta killed one person and wounded others, including women and children.

Syrian state TV also said the rebels shelled several Damascus neighborhoods, wounding at least three people.

The government and opposition resumed peace talks in Geneva on Tuesday. The U.N.-hosted negotiations paused for the weekend but are scheduled to resume on Tuesday.

Bassem Mroue is an Associated Press writer.



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