DAMASCUS - The Israeli army overnight carried out air strikes and fired rockets at targets in Syria, causing damage near a military position, the Syrian army said in a statement on Tuesday.

Israel's army has carried out several attacks on the Syrian army and its ally Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011. The Israeli air force carried out strikes on the Qutayfeh area northeast of Damascus, causing the Syrian army to retaliate and "hit one of its planes", the Syrian army said. Syrian air defences intercepted one rocket, but several more hit "near a military position, causing material damage," it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the air strikes targeted Syrian army and Hezbollah weapon depots.

The strikes sparked "successive explosions and fires, causing material damage" in the depots, where land-to-land missiles have been stored among other weapons, the Observatory said.

The Syrian army also said Israel launched land-to-land missiles into Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but it intercepted them.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Syria and Israel remain technically at war, and the Jewish state fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in 2006.

In December, Israeli fighter jets bombed areas near Damascus including a scientific research centre and warehouses where weapons and ammunition of the regime and its allies were stocked, the Observatory said.

Deadly Syria bombardments as UN aid boss visits

Bombardments of a Syria rebel enclave and Damascus Tuesday left at least 22 people dead, a monitor and state media said, as the UN’s humanitarian chief paid his first visit to the country.

At least 18 civilians, including three children, were killed in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta near Damascus by artillery fire and air strikes from either regime or Russian aircraft, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rebels bombarded two districts of the capital in retaliation, with Syrian state media reporting four people were killed.

Eastern Ghouta has been under government siege since 2013 and its estimated 400,000 inhabitants are suffering severe shortages of food and medicine.

The deadliest strikes hit the Hammuriyeh district, while more than 80 people were wounded in the bombardments of the rebel territory, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria.

An AFP correspondent saw a rescuer emerge from the rubble with a child in their arms, as a man trapped up to his waist waited for people to dig him out.

The latest bloodshed in Syria’s war - which is estimated to have claimed the lives of 340,000 people since 2011 - came as UN humanitarian boss Mark Lowcock discussed getting aid to civilians.

Lowcock, who took over as under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs in September, met with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem as the UN seeks greater access to besieged populations.

The United Nations has said some 500 people are in critical condition inside Eastern Ghouta and need to be evacuated for urgent medical treatment.

Twenty-nine patients, mainly children, were allowed out in December under a deal struck between the regime and rebels.

Eastern Ghouta was one of four “de-escalation zones” agreed under a deal between rebel and regime backers but the opposition stronghold remains the target of intense regime air strikes .