2 wounded in Israeli airstrike on Syrian coastal village

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Israel carried out an airstrike Saturday morning on a Syrian coastal village near the Lebanese border, according to Syrian state media. Two people, including a woman, were injured.

The attack, the first since Israeli airstrikes at Damascus International Airport in the Syrian capital on June 10, caused major damage to infrastructure and runways, rendering the main runway unusable. The airport was closed for two weeks and flights resumed on June 23.

State news agency SANA said Israeli warplanes flew over northern Lebanon and fired missiles at several chicken farms in the village of Hamidiyeh, south of the coastal city of Tartus. The attack occurred a few kilometers (miles) north of the Lebanese border.

In addition to material damage, two people were injured, SANA said.

Israel has launched hundreds of attacks on targets in Syria over the years, but such actions are rarely acknowledged or discussed. Israel said it was targeting Iran-aligned militias bases such as Hezbollah, whose fighters deployed in Syria fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s government forces and transported weapons believed to be destined for the militias.

The strike at Damascus International Airport marks a major escalation in the Israeli campaign, further fueling tensions between Israel on the one hand and the militant Hezbollah group of Iran and its Lebanese ally on the other.

Saturday’s attack came hours before Iranian Foreign Minister Hussein Amirabdullahian was scheduled to arrive in Syria to meet with senior Syrian officials.

Iran has been one of Assad’s strongest backers, sending thousands of fighters from the region to help his forces in Syria’s 11-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and left the country dead. Half of the country’s 23 million people were displaced before the war.

A United Nations report last week said more than 300,000 civilians had been killed in the conflict that began in March 2011.

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