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Syrian war monitor says Israeli strike near Palmyra kills 9

April 21, 2020 GMT
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, wears a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also wore a mask and gloves, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April. 20, 2020. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, wears a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also wore a mask and gloves, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April. 20, 2020. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, wears a mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who also wore a mask and gloves, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, April. 20, 2020. (SANA via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — An Israeli airstrike in central Syria killed nine fighters, including six who were not Syrians and some who were loyal to the militant Hezbollah group, an opposition war monitor said Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave no nationalities for the foreigners who were killed on a military post in the desert near the historic central town of Palmyra. It said the dead included some fighters loyal to Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

Israel says it has been behind a series of airstrikes mainly targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria that have joined the country’s war fighting alongside the government. It rarely confirms the attacks and did not comment on Monday’s airstrike.

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Syrian state TV reported the country’s air defenses shot down several missiles launched by Israeli warplanes Monday night. The station gave no further details about the attack, the latest of several to hit central Syria in the past three weeks.

The Observatory said late Monday the Israeli strikes targeted Iranian and Iran-backed fighters in the desert near Palmyra. It added that Israeli warplanes were also flying over neighboring Lebanon.

The strikes came hours after Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was in the Syrian capital Damascus, where he met with Assad and his Syrian counterpart.