Syria claims an Israeli attack on Damascus resulted in five deaths

Damascus after dark

Syria's military says five people have died after what it alleged were Israeli missiles hit the capital Damascus and surrounding areas on Sunday.

Officials said a building was hit in the central Kafr Sousa neighbourhood, killing four civilians and one soldier.

The densely populated district is home to a large, heavily guarded security complex.

When contacted by the Reuters news agency regarding the strike, Israel's military declined to comment.

Although it frequently attacks Hezbollah and Iranian-linked targets in Syria, Israel rarely accepts responsibility for its actions.  However, attacks on residential areas are rare.

Sunday's attack was the first since a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the north-west of the country, as well as parts of neighbouring Turkey, 12 days ago.

Senior government officials, security organizations, as well as civilians residing in apartment buildings, call the Kafr Sousa area home.

According to Syrian officials, the strike, which occurred at 00:22 local time (21:22 GMT), damaged a number of homes in Damascus neighborhoods and other nearby areas.

The country's defence ministry said the rockets were launched from the Golan Heights, a rocky plateau south-west of Damascus which was annexed by Israel in 1981.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, reported 15 fatalities, including civilians.

"The strike on Sunday is the deadliest Israeli attack in the Syrian capital," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the observatory.

It occurs more than a month after an Israeli strike that, according to the Syrian army, killed four people, including two soldiers, at the international airport in Damascus.

Israel has previously acknowledged that it targets the bases of militant groups loyal to Iran.

The two countries are arch-foes and in recent years have been engaged in what has been described as a "shadow war" of unclaimed attacks on each other's assets, infrastructure and nationals.

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