Israeli airstrikes said to hit targets near Damascus

Strikes are first since Russia carried out public joint air-defense patrols with Syrian air force; state TV claims some incoming missiles intercepted, but ‘material damage’ caused

By TOI STAFFToday, 5:39 am  

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

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

Israeli jets carried out airstrikes against targets near the Syrian capital of Damascus early Monday morning, Syrian state TV reported.

The alleged strikes are the first since Russia announced last week it was carrying out joint military jet patrols with the Syrian air force of the airspace along Syria’s borders, including in the Golan Heights area.

Monday’s TV report said Syria activated its air defenses and intercepted several of the incoming missiles, but noted that the strikes had caused some “material damage.” There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Syria routinely claims to shoot down Israeli missiles. Analysts generally dismiss such claims — heard after nearly every Israeli airstrike — as false, empty boasts.

Reports said the missiles were fired from the direction of neighboring Lebanon. The targets of the strikes were not immediately clear.Get The Times of Israel’s Daily Editionby email and never miss our top storiesNewsletter email addressGET ITBy signing up, you agree to the terms

Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses specific operations. Many of the strikes in the past targeted the main airport in the capital Damascus, through which Iran is believed to transfer advanced arms to its proxies.

Israel has acknowledged that it targets the bases of Iranian forces and Iran-allied terror groups, particularly along the Golan border, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has fighters deployed in southern Syria. It says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups.

Hezbollah is fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the decade-long civil war.

In December, Israel reportedly carried out two high-profile strikes on the Syrian port of Latakia.In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, flames rise from containers at the scene of missiles attack, at the seaport of the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, early December 28, 2021. (SANA via AP)

Last week Russia carried out a joint air patrol with the Syrian air force along the border with Israel, prompting speculation that Israel would be more hesitant to strike Syria.

Following the patrol, Ynet reported that Israeli military officials were holding talks with Russian army officers to calm tensions.

According to the report, Israeli officials were struggling to understand why Russia, which announced such joint patrols were expected to be a regular occurrence moving forward, had apparently changed its policy toward Israel.

The report claimed, without citing a source, that Israel may limit its air campaign in Syria as a result of Russia’s move, even after discussions end.

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