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DAMASCUS: Five Syrian soldiers were wounded in an Israeli air strike near the western city of Homs early Sunday, Syria's state news agency SANA said.

The strike was Israel's third in recent days after Damascus was targeted on the nights of March 30 and 31, according to the agency.

“Today at around 00:35 (2135 GMT), the Israeli enemy carried out an air assault from northeast of Beirut targeting positions in the city of Homs and its province,“ SANA reported on Sunday, citing a military source.

Syria's air defence intercepted several missiles, but five soldiers were wounded and some material damage was reported, the source added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes targeted several military positions of Syrian government forces and pro-Iran groups in Homs.

The NGO said explosions rocked the city and a fire broke out in a research centre, with ambulances heading to the scene of the attack.

Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP that in addition to the five wounded Syrian soldiers, several Iranian-affiliated fighters in the research centre had been killed in the strikes.

An officer from Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards was killed in Israeli strikes in Syria on March 31, a website affiliated with the Guards said.

Israel has conducted seven air strikes in Syria this month, according to the Observatory, which has an extensive network of sources in the country.

While Israel rarely comments on the strikes it carries out on Syria, it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch-foe Iran to extend its footprint in the war-torn country.

Last month, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in a Damascus district that houses state security agencies, the Observatory said at the time.

Last week, an Israeli missile strike destroyed a suspected arms depot used by Iran-backed militias at Syria's Aleppo airport, the war monitor said.

On March 7, three people were killed in an Israeli strike on the same airport that put it out of service. It reopened three days later.

The Syrian war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of peaceful anti-government protests, and escalated into a deadly armed conflict that pulled in foreign powers and global jihadists.

Some 500,000 people have been killed and around half of Syria's pre-war population has been forced from their homes. -AFP