On Sunday, February 19, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted an airstrike against Damascus, the capital of Syria, leaving at least five people dead, 15 wounded, and damage to residential buildings, according to Al Jazeera.
The raid hit a building in the central Damascus neighborhood of Kafr Sousa. The attack hit a residential area in the heart of the city, Al Jazeera reports, a densely populated district that is close to Omayyad Square. According to CBS News, around 12:30 a.m. local time, people reported hearing loud explosions in the capital over a central area of the city. CBS News continues that the Syrian Arab News Agency stated that Syrian Air Defenses were “controlling hostile targets in the sky around Damascus.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, reported that the 15 people killed in the airstrike included at least one woman. Israeli officials claim that the IDF only carried out airstrikes on targeted sites connected with Iranian militias and the Lebanese militant group known as Hezbollah. The strikes damaged buildings that were connected to a medieval citadel in central Damascus and an applied arts institute housed there, according to CBS News.
Samer Abdo, an engineer from Kafr Sousa whose apartment building was hit during the strike, was forced to clear debris from his apartment after the Israeli air raid. Abdo told the Associated Press that his family woke up in terror when the buildings began shaking from the bombings. Mohamed Dulo, another resident from the neighborhood, described not understanding why the area was targeted, according to CBS News.
Director General of Antiquities and Museums Mohamad Awad informed the Associated Press that the equipment and machinery inside the residential buildings that was destroyed during the attack was hard to acquire due to the U.S. embargo on Syria and the country’s ongoing economic crisis. There was no immediate response from Israel on the reason for the airstrike, with an Israeli military spokesperson refusing to comment to the press when asked about the airstrike.
CBS News explains that the strikes hit a parking garage located under a building, killing ten civilians and Syrian troops. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad stated that the Israeli airstrike on Damascus should be considered a “crime against humanity” as the attack took place less than two weeks after the February 6 earthquake that killed more than 5,800 people across Syria, says Reuters.
In recent months, Israel has intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt Iran’s use of air supply to ship arms to Syria, Reuters reports. The attack on the airport occurred around 2:00 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, putting the country’s primary airport out of service, according to France 24. Though Israel claims to have targeted suspected Iranian militias during its airstrike, reports there were no Iranian deaths following the Israeli airstrike on Damascus.
Image courtesy of Shir Hever