Between five and 12 civilians were reportedly killed as a result of Israeli airstrikes that targeted several military sites in the Damascus countryside after midnight on July 1st, 2019, according to local sources.
The strike resulted in the first significant reported civilian harm from recent Israeli actions, with five named civilians locally reported killed – despite several hundred declared airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah forces and the Assad regime in recent years. However, it remained unclear whether some or all of the harm had occurred directly as a result of the strikes, or from Syrian counter-fire.
According to Free Deir Ezzor Radio, an Israeli missile (possibly launched by a naval vessel) killed a number of civilians when its impact shattered the glass windows of a house in Sahnaya. The Syrian-regime affiliated SANA News claimed that four civilians were killed, including a baby, in addition to 21 others injured, also including children. Numerous other sources also cited 21 as the number wounded in the attack.
News agency AFP said that six civilians including three children died, along with nine “mostly foreign pro-regime fighters.”
The New York Times, citing an anonymous Syrian government official, placed the civilian fatality toll as high as 10: “Another figure close to the Syrian government who was briefed on the strikes and who requested anonymity to discuss secret military information put the total death toll from the attacks higher, saying that at least 16 had been killed, including five Syrian Army personnel, one Iranian and 10 civilians and that 49 others had been wounded.”
Meanwhile, Step News alleged that “twelve civilians were killed, including four people from one family,” and that about “50 people, including children and infants, were injured by Israeli airstrikes targeting several positions of the Syrian regime and its pro-Iranian militias.” The same source named two locations in discussion of the incident, referring to casualties in Sahnaya and Jdaidt Artouz. However other sources did not cite civilian harm in Jdaidt Artouz.
NFAC, and other sources named two of those killed as “Rateb Mustafa Bakri Pasha and daughter Elaf Rateb Bakri Pasha”, referring to Mr Bakri Pasha as a doctor. Enab Baladi News stated that among those killed were “displaced citizens from the neighbouring city of Darya.”
@zamanalwsl, and other sources, also reported that “a whole family (father, mother and baby) were killed” in the attack, while another source named “Anas Al Bayat, his baby son Abdul Rahman, and his wife, Rama Arna’out” as among the fatalities.
SANA quoted a military source who reported that their “air defenses intercepted hostile missiles fired by Israeli warplanes from the Lebanese airspace towards some of our military positions in Homs and the surroundings of Damascus.” The news agency added that “due to the pressure which resulted from the explosions which occurred in the sky over Damascus, material damage was inflicted on a number of civilians’ houses in Sahnaya town as the glass of the houses was shattered causing injury to a number of people.”
The Syrian Observatory instead said that casualties occurred at Sahnaya “due to the fall of missile remnants on the area.”
The Syrian Foreign Ministry later accused Israel of “heinous aggression” according to the Guardian: “Israeli authorities are increasingly practising state terrorism,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the official Sana news agency on July 2nd. “The latest heinous Israeli aggression falls within the framework of ongoing Israeli attempts to prolong the crisis in Syria,” it added.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Israeli military had declined to comment on the Syrian claims of civilian deaths, telling its reporter. “We are not commenting on foreign reports.”
According to Masra Al Arabia, the Syrian official media reported that “the Syrian air defenses responded, after midnight, to enemy missiles launched by the Israeli occupation forces at some military sites in Homs and the vicinity of Damascus, killing a number of civilians, including a child, and wounding others in the town of Sahnaya in the southern countryside of Damascus.” A military source told the Syrian News Agency (SANA) that the Israeli warplanes launched their missiles from Lebanese airspace.
SANA’s correspondent pointed out that 4 civilians were killed, including a one-month-old child, and 21 were wounded, including children, in Sahnaya town in Damascus countryside, as a result of the aggression, noting that the wounded were transferred to hospitals where they received the necessary treatment.
Other sites reportedly struck by Israel that night – though with no known associated reports of civilian harm – included Mezzeh military airport, Dimas, Ksoua, Qatana and Khan Al Sheikh.
The incident occured after midnight.