Israeli airstrikes kill at least 38 in Aleppo, Syria

Israeli strikes on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo early on Friday killed 38 people, including five members of Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, two security sources said, the deadliest attacks so far in an intensified Israeli campaign against Iran’s allies in Syria.

Israel has ramped up its airstrikes on both Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Syria since the Oct. 7 incursion into Israel led by Iran-backed Palestinian faction Hamas.

Tehran and its proxies have entrenched themselves across Syria, including around Aleppo and the capital Damascus.

Israel has repeatedly struck international airports in both cities over the years to disrupt weapons flows to Iran’s allies in the region, but strikes since Oct. 7 have been deadlier and prompted Iran to withdraw some of its top officers from Syria.

Syria’s defence ministry said Israeli strikes hit several areas in the southeastern part of Aleppo province around 1:45 a.m. local time, killing a number of civilians and military personnel.

It said the airstrikes coincided with drone attacks carried out from Idlib and western rural Aleppo that the ministry described as having been conducted by “terrorist organizations” against civilians in Aleppo and its surroundings.

The Israeli military declined comment.

In a post on X, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Israel’s attacks on Syria were a “blatant and desperate attempt” to expand the war, without saying if there were Iranian casualties.

WATCH l Explaining Iran’s ‘Axis of Resistance’:

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Violence erupts near Lebanon border

Three security sources told Reuters that 33 Syrians and five Hezbollah fighters had been killed in the strikes. One of the Hezbollah fighters was a local field commander whose brother had been killed in an Israeli strike on southern Lebanon in November, one of the sources said.

It marks the biggest escalation since the two heavily armed foes fought a month-long war in 2006. A United Nations resolution put an end to the Hezbollah-Israel war in Lebanon, but diplomatic efforts have so far failed to bring an end to current cross-border shelling.

LISTEN l An interview with Beirut journalist Rebecca Collard (Nov. 1, 2023):

Front Burner20:15What is Hezbollah?

As Israel’s ground war in Gaza escalates, there’s another conflict threatening to spill over. Israel and Hezbollah continue to exchange fire on the Lebanon border, stoking fears that a second front may open up. What is Hezbollah? Why does it present a growing threat to Israel? How could an escalating conflict between the two could spark a wider regional war? Journalist Rebecca Collard in Beirut explains. For transcripts of Front Burner, please visit: Transcripts of each episode will be made available by the next workday.

In a separate incident, the Israeli military said on Friday it had killed Ali Abed Akhsan Naim, deputy commander of Hezbollah’s rocket and missiles unit, in an airsrike in the area of Bazouriye in Lebanon. It said he was one of the Iranian-backed militia’s leaders in heavy warhead rocket fire and said he was responsible for conducting and planning attacks against Israeli civilians.

Israel and Hezbollah have been trading fire across Lebanon’s southern border in parallel with the Gaza war. More than 270 Hezbollah fighters and 50 civilians — including medics, civilians and journalists, have been killed in Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon. About a dozen Israeli troops and half as many civilians have been killed in northern Israel.

Over 2,000 rockets have been fired from Lebanon into northern Israel since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.

At around sunset Thursday, a barrage of Katyusha and Burkan rockets was fired toward the Israeli village of Goren and Shlomi, a statement from Hezbollah said. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said the group had not previously fired Burkan rockets at civilian targets, but was now responding to the recent spate of Israeli airstrikes.

A boarded up house is shown with extensive damage to its structure, with debris in the backyard.
A view of a house damaged by a rocket following a rocket strike on Israel, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, is shown Friday in Shlomi, northern Israel. (Avi Ohayon/Reuters)

Around 100,000 Israelis have had to evacuate from the area around the northern border with Lebanon since early October, as have tens of thousands of Lebanese from communities on the opposite side.

Hezbollah has said it would stop firing into Israel if a ceasefire was reached in Gaza. Israeli and U.S. officials, however, have said a ceasefire in Gaza would not automatically extend to Lebanon.

WATCH l How Palestinians are coping in 1st Ramadan since war erupted:

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During Ramadan, Muslims around the world typically gather with friends and loved ones to celebrate and connect with their faith. This year is different though, with many eyes focused on the war in Gaza. Adel Iskandar, associate professor of global communication at SFU, explains how the war has affected the way Palestinian Muslims observe Ramadan.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) pilots have stepped up practising long-range strikes across the northern border with Lebanon as normal training activities have resumed in recent weeks after being suspended at the start of the Gaza war, the military said this week.

“The training program will focus on increasing the IAF’s readiness for war in the northern arena and in other arenas during prolonged combat,” it said in a statement. The drills include rehearsing for “massive, long-range strikes, flying deep into enemy territory,” it added.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials updated casualty figures Friday in Gaza since Oct. 7. At least 32,623 Palestinians have been killed and 75,092 injured in Israel’s military offensive, the Gaza health ministry said. The ministry does not provide a breakdown between civilian and combatant deaths.

The attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7 led by Hamas saw about 1,200 people killed, according to Israeli tallies, including several Canadians. The Israeli government believes some 130 hostages remain in Gaza, though it has confirmed the deaths of over 30 of those people. About 110 hostages have been repatriated in exchanges for Palestinian prisoners.

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