Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said Sunday one of its commanders had been shot dead in Syria in an assassination the Iran-backed group blamed on Israeli agents.

The Gaza Strip-based group said Ali Ramzi al-Aswad, 31, was killed Sunday morning “by agents of the Zionist (Israeli) enemy” in the countryside outside the Syrian capital Damascus.

“The assassination was carried out by direct shooting near his house,” an Islamic Jihad official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

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Aswad, a Palestinian refugee living in a Syrian camp and also known as Abu Abed al-Rahman, was a member of the group’s Al-Quds Brigade armed wing, it said.

Many of the group’s senior leaders have been based in Damascus, and the killing is the latest reported targeting of the group by Israel.

Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in the neighbouring country, targeting government troops as well as Iran-backed forces and Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters.

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The Israeli military rarely comments on individual strikes against Syria, but has vowed repeatedly to keep up its air campaign to stop arch foe Iran consolidating its presence.

Last week, Israeli airstrikes targeting a weapons depot in Syria killed an army officer and two pro-Iran fighters, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

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