Syria Reports Israeli Airstrikes Near The City Of Aleppo. A War Monitor Says 44 People Are Dead

This is a locator map for Syria with its capital, Damascus. (AP Photo)
This is a locator map for Syria with its capital, Damascus. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian army says Israeli airstrikes on Friday near the northern city of Aleppo killed or wounded “a number of” people and caused damage. A war monitor said the strikes killed 44, most of them Syrian troops.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said Israeli strikes hit missile depots for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group in Aleppo’s southern suburb of Jibreen, near the Aleppo International Airport, and the nearby town of Safira, home to a sprawling military facility.

The observatory said 36 Syrian troops, seven Hezbollah fighters and a Syrian member of an Iran-backed group died, and dozens of people were wounded, calling it the deadliest such attack in years.

There was no immediate statement from Israeli officials on the strikes.

Israel, which has vowed to stop Iranian entrenchment in its northern neighbor, has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets in government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but it rarely acknowledges them.

On Thursday, Syrian state media reported airstrikes near the capital, Damascus, saying they wounded two civilians.

Hezbollah has had an armed presence in Syria since it joined the country’s conflict fighting alongside government forces.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city and once its commercial center, has come under such attacks in the past that led to the closure of its international airport. Friday's strike did not affect the airport.

The strikes have escalated over the past five months against the backdrop of the war in Gaza and ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.

In neighboring Lebanon, an Israeli drone strike hit a car near the southern port city of Tyre and killed a Hezbollah member, Lebanese state media reported. Israel's military said the targeted man was Ali Naim, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile program. The group confirmed he was killed, without stating what his job was within the organization.

The drone strike that killed Naim came a day after Hezbollah fired rockets with heavy warheads at towns in northern Israel, saying it used the weapons against civilian targets for the first time in retaliation for Israeli airstrikes the night before that killed nine people, including what the group said were several paramedics.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza on Oct. 7, concerns have grown that near-daily clashes along the border between Israel and Lebanon could escalate into a full-scale war.