Syrian Military Says Repel Israeli Missile Attacks near Damascus

Syrian Military Says Repel Israeli Missile Attacks near Damascus

The Observatory, which monitors the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said there was no immediate word on casualties.

The UN says more than 2.5 million people are now living in Idlib, including more than 1 million displaced by fighting from other parts the Syria.

The bombing came hours after the Syrian military announced it had recaptured a strategically important town in eastern Idlib.

Al-Ikhbariya TV also reported that regime forces took Sinjar on Sunday. Backed by artillery and air strikes, Syrian units are fighting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as the al Nusra Front and once the Syrian arm of al-Qaeda, which is dominant in the province.

According to the Observatory, 159 rebels and government soldier have been killed in fighting over the base since 29 December.

Idlib province, on the border with Turkey, is one of the last major strongholds of the forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian government forces and their allies have been on the offensive since late October in Hama and Idlib provinces, capturing almost 100 villages from insurgent groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Levant Liberation Committee.

Critics accuse the Syrian government of forcing people to starve or surrender, as part of a policy of forced displacement of civilians from opposition-controlled areas.

Israel has carried out one of its most substantial attacks on Syria in weeks, with a pre-dawn flurry of airstrikes against an army base and weapons depot outside of the capital city of Damascus.

Brig. -Gen. Suheil al-Hassan, also known among his troops as Tiger, has led elite forces to many victories against insurgents since the conflict began almost seven years ago.

The province bordering Turkey is home to more than 2.6 million Syrians, according to the United Nations, including more than 1.1 million who fled fighting elsewhere in the country.

In its statement, the Syrian army repeated previous warnings of serious repercussions for the strikes and repeated its past accusation that Israel was using attacks to support militant groups in Syria.

Syria has been embattled by a civil war since early 2011, when Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

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