Two Islamic Jihad fighters have been killed in an Israeli air attack on Damascus, the armed group has said, as Israel confirmed the raid on the Syrian capital as well as in Gaza.
A statement from Islamic Jihad’s armed wing on Monday said the two men, who were members of the group, were killed during the “Zionist bombing in Damascus,” which took place late on Sunday night.
Earlier, Israel said it launched the attack south of Damascus following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
“In the Adeliyah region, outside of Damascus, an Islamic Jihad compound was struck, used as a hub of Islamic Jihad’s activity in Syria,” it added, while confirming several other attacks in Gaza.
It is rare for them to claim such attacks directly.
Al Jazeera also received independent confirmation about the air raids in Gaza.
Images received by Al Jazeera showed a ball of fire lighting up the night sky in one Gaza neighbourhood, as thick smoke rose. There were no immediate reports on casualties.
The Islamic Jihad operates in the Palestinian territories and Syria and fired more than 20 rockets from Gaza throughout Sunday.
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An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard several strong explosions shortly before midnight local time (22:00 GMT).
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks were “near the Damascus international airport”.
The Syrian state news agency SANA said “most of the enemy missiles were shot down before reaching their targets,” stressing that “no airport” was struck.
Earlier, SANA said anti-air defences were activated against attacks “in the Damascus area”.
Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of raids in Syria, mainly targeting government forces as well as allied Iranian forces and Hezbollah fighters.
A missile attack blamed on Israel in mid-February killed three Syrian and four Iranian fighters in the Damascus airport area, according to the Syrian Observatory.
Israel considers Iran a national security threat and says it would not tolerate Iran’s presence on its borders.
In November, Israel targeted two senior Islamic Jihad commanders in a simultaneous attack, killing one in the Gaza Strip and missing the second in Syria.
At the time, Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at the home of Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the Islamic Jihad’s leadership living in exile. He was not harmed, but his son and granddaughter were killed.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies