Israeli jets on Tuesday (9 October 1973) struck at the heart of the ancient Syrian capital of Damascus, reducing an area of six blocks to rubble.
Israeli jets on Tuesday (9 October 1973) struck at the heart of the ancient Syrian capital of Damascus, reducing an area of six blocks to rubble. The attack, by six Phantom jet-fighters, was concentrated around Syrian Military Headquarters, but them main target escaped damage. It was surrounding buildings that bore the brunt of the assault, among them the Soviet Cultural Centre, a teachers' college and an apartment complex. Several bombs landed in the diplomatic compound next door to the Syrian Defence Ministry.
Numerous civilian casualties were reported, among them passengers in street traffic who were burned alive when their vehicles exploded. A United Nations observer and his daughter died in the bombing and a number of Soviet diplomats were reported killed.
A Syrian military spokesman claimed that four of the rading jets had been downed in dogfights. Two of the pilots were said to have parachuted out and been captured.
The attacks were in retaliation for the Syrian bombardment of northern Israeli civilian settlements. An Israeli statement said that Soviet-made Frog missiles carrying 500-kilogram (half a tn) warheads had been directed at settlements within a range of 40 miles (70 km).