Israeli airstrikes near Damascus kill 6: war monitor

Six people were killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and Iranian-backed militia near Damascus, the Syrian capital, a war monitor reported on Monday, following the firing of a barrage of rockets by the jihadists toward Israel. The Israeli strikes also targeted dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip, according to Israel's military.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the shelling hit a post located a few kilometers from the Damascus International Airport, which was manned by the Islamic Jihad and Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
The UK-based watchdog said two members of the Islamic Jihad militant group and four pro-Iran fighters in Syria were killed when Israeli aircraft targeted the group overnight.
The move is the latest in a pattern of back-and-forth  violence ahead of Israel's March 2 elections. The Israeli Air Force targeted "Islamic Jihad terror sites" in Gaza and Damascus, according to a military statement. It came in the wake of more than 20 rockets and mortars fired from the Palestinian enclave, which were in turn a response to the killing of an Islamic Jihad militant at the Gaza-Israel border.
Read more: Opinion: Trump's Middle East 'peace plan' delivers neither
Israel Iron dome (Reuters/A. Cohen) Israel's anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza toward Israel on 23 February
The Islamic Jihad compound that was hit was being used as a "hub" by the Palestinian movement for research and development of weapons, for manufacturing a rocket fuel chemical, and for training militants, according to the statement released by the Israeli military.
Islamic Jihad has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 along with allied group Hamas. The militant group is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and operates in the Gaza Strip and Syria.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that have targeted mainly government troops, allied Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
It is rare for Israel to directly claim responsibility for such strikes.
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