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Zionist entity strikes near Damascus wound two soldiers: Defence ministry

Zionist court acquits man 13 years after murder conviction

DAMASCUS: Zionist entity carried out missile strikes near Damascus early Thursday that wounded two soldiers, Syria’s defence ministry said. During more than a decade of war in Syria, Zionist entity has launched hundreds of air strikes on Syrian territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters, as well as Syrian army positions.

Explosions were heard in the Syrian capital early Thursday morning, an AFP correspondent reported. “At around 01:20 am, the Zionist enemy carried out an aerial aggression from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights targeting several positions in the vicinity of Damascus,” Syria’s defence ministry said.

It did not provide any details on the targets but said the strikes wounded two soldiers and caused material damage. Syria’s air defences intercepted several missiles, the ministry added. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes targeted positions of pro-Iran groups, adding that a building south of the capital was destroyed.

Syria’s foreign ministry condemned the strikes, accusing Zionist entity in a statement of trying to “escape internal divisions”, as the country faces a severe domestic crisis over controversial judicial reforms. While Zionist entity 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 Zionist air strike killed 15 people in a Damascus district that houses state security agencies, the Observatory said at the time. Last week, an Zionist 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 Zionist 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 to 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. Meanwhile, an Zionist court on Thursday acquitted a man convicted of murdering a schoolgirl 13 years ago, reigniting mystery around the case that gripped the country.

“The Nazareth district court today acquitted… defendant Roman Zdorov of the murder of Tair Rada,” the court said in a statement. Rada was found with a slit throat and in a pool of blood in a bathroom stall of her high school in Katzrin, a town in the Zionist-occupied Golan Heights, in December 2006. She was 13 years old.

Zdorov, a Ukrainian resident of Zionist entity who had been working in construction at the school, was arrested days after, and charged at the same Nazareth court based on evidence and a confession he later retracted. He was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison. Expert opinion on the knife used saw the supreme court order a retrial, and in 2014 the Nazareth district court once again found him guilty, a ruling the supreme court upheld the following year on appeal.

In 2021 the supreme justice granted Zdorov the right to another retrial at the Nazareth district court, releasing him to house arrest for the duration of the process that ended Thursday with two of the three judges ruling him innocent of Rada’s murder.

The judges who acquitted him cited “firm and reasonable doubt” in Zdorov’s guilt, and that “the prosecution failed to prove the defendant’s guilt”, according to the verdict. Sitting with his wife and son in the courtroom, Zdorov burst into tears when the head of the panel said he was not guilty, freeing him more than 16 years after he was first imprisoned.

In brief remarks to the media after the proceedings ended, Zdorov thanked his supporters. “The truth has emerged victorious,” he said. Rada’s mother, Ilana, who for years had doubted Zdorov’s guilt, pointed a finger at the state prosecution, who she claimed built a case around the wrong man. “For the first time justice has been made,” she said of Thursday’s ruling. “The next stage is to start looking for the murderers, and we know where to go,” she added, without elaborating. – AFP

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