Airstrikes Kill Soldiers in Syria in Apparent Israeli Attack

Airstrikes killed a number of soldiers near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo early Friday, Syria’s state news media and an independent organization reported, in what appeared to be one of the heaviest Israeli attacks in the country in years.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that tracks Syria’s civil war, said that the dead included 36 Syrian soldiers, seven Hezbollah fighters and a Syrian from the pro-Iranian militias. The group said the attack appeared to have hit multiple targets, including a weapons depot belonging to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia that Iran supports and has a presence in Syria.

The airstrikes stoked fears that have unsettled Western officials for months: that Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza could escalate into a broader conflict against Syria, Iran and its proxies across the region, which could entangle allies of those involved, like Russia and the United States.

American officials have sought to tamp down tensions, and Iran has tried to rein in its network of militias after a drone fired by one of the groups killed three U.S. Army reservists in January. But fears of a wider conflict have persisted as Israel and Hezbollah have clashed for months along the border, and as Israel has carried out assaults on Iran-linked targets in Syria.

Israel’s military did not immediately comment on the Syria strikes on Friday, but its defense minister, Yoav Gallant, appeared to hint at responsibility.

“We will pursue Hezbollah every place it operates and we will expand the pressure and the pace of the attacks,” he said on social media, promising more operations in Lebanon, Syria and “other more distant locations.”

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