BEIRUT — An Israeli airstrike killed at least two pro-government fighters in the volatile border zone in southern Syria on Wednesday, according to a report by a television station affiliated with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.
Al-Manar said militants allied with President Bashar al-Assad’s government had been driving near the Israeli-held Golan Heights when a “spying” aircraft from Israel fired on their car. The attack occurred near a village called Hadar that is inhabited by members of the Druze religious sect, according to the report, which gave no further details.
The Syrian government said in a statement aired on state-run TV that a pilotless Israeli plane struck a civilian car near Hadar, killing three villagers, according to the Associated Press.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported five deaths in the strike. The Britain-based watchdog, which monitors Syria’s four-year-old conflict, said two members of Hezbollah and three pro-government militiamen were slain. Militants from Hezbollah, an enemy of Israel, have teamed up with Assad’s military and pro-government militias in Syria to fight rebels in the country’s civil war.
Israeli officials neither confirmed nor denied involvement in the attack.
Concern is rising about the fate of Hadar and other Druze communities in Syria because of attacks by radical Islamist rebels. Members of Israel’s small Druze minority are calling on the Israeli government to intervene on behalf of their Syrian brethren. The Druze are an ancient people whose faith includes elements of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as well as other philosophies.
Israel has been linked to cross-border air raids in Syria during the civil war, including one in January that Hezbollah said killed several of its fighters and an Iranian military commander. Iran is a close ally of Assad.
Analysts say some of the Israeli airstrikes in Syria have targeted weapons being transferred to Hezbollah by the Assad government.