Archive for December 23, 2019

Syria says air defenses fire on ‘hostile missiles’ from Israel 

December 23, 2019

Source: Syria says air defenses fire on ‘hostile missiles’ from Israel | The Times of Israel

Residents of Damascus report explosions near capital; rights group says attack targets ‘Syrian regime and Iranian positions’

Illustrative. This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows missiles flying into the sky near the international airport in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019. (SANA via AP)

Illustrative. This photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows missiles flying into the sky near the international airport in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019. (SANA via AP)

Syrian air defenses opened fire Sunday night on missiles fired from the direction of Israel, state media reported.

Syrian state news agency SANA claimed one of the missiles was shot down near the Damascus suburb of Aqraba but gave no further details. Residents of Damascus said explosions could be heard near the capital.

“Air defenses confront hostile missiles coming from the direction of the occupied lands,” SANA said, referring to Israel.

“There are reports of one of the hostile targets being taken down in the Aqraba area in the rural parts of Damascus,” the report said.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were three explosions in the Damascus suburbs after the missiles targeted “Syrian regime and Iranian positions.”

The Observatory added that ambulances were observed heading toward where the missiles hit.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Shortly before the reports of the attack near Damascus, SANA said that air defenses had shot down a drone over the coastal Syrian city of Jableh. It wasn’t clear if the two incidents were related.

Two weeks ago unidentified aircraft bombed three Iranian-controlled weapons depots, killing several members of Tehran-supported militias, Syrian media reported at the time.

Those airstrikes targeted three munitions storehouses in the Boulkamal region of Syria, near the Iraqi border, an area that has reportedly been hit by Israeli raids in the past year.

There were no immediate reports of who was responsible for the strikes, though defense analysts indicated that Israel was the likely actor.

The bombing came days after reports of a similar raid in the same region.

The Israeli military does not comment on specific airstrikes in Syria, save for those that are in retaliation for attacks on Israel.

Israel has repeatedly said that it will not accept Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and that it will retaliate for any attack on the Jewish state from Syria.

Though it does not generally comment on specific attacks, Israel has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets over the last several years. Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel’s northern neighbor, and supports the Hezbollah terror group and Gaza terrorists.

Last month, Israel said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria in a “wide-scale” operation in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.

Earlier in November, Israel killed a senior commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed group in the Gaza Strip, setting off two days of heavy fighting. A separate airstrike targeted but failed to kill an Islamic Jihad leader in Damascus, underscoring the risk of escalation at various pressure points across the volatile region.