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Alleged Israeli airstrikes said to hit targets near Damascus airport

Syrian state media reports attack near capital, weeks after previous incident in same area; observer says strikes hit ammunition stores belonging to Iranian militias

Illustrative: Smoke billows following an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting south of Damascus, Syria, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)
Illustrative: Smoke billows following an alleged Israeli airstrike targeting south of Damascus, Syria, on July 20, 2020 (AFP)

Israel carried out airstrikes in Syria late Tuesday night, Syrian state media reported, in the latest in a series of raids attributed to the Jewish state.

The state-run SANA news agency said Syrian air defenses had engaged Israeli missiles near the capital Damascus.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

“Our air defenses intercepted the attack and shot down most of” the missiles, SANA cited a military source as saying. Defense analysts routinely dismiss such claims by the Syrian regime as empty boasts.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes targeted two ammunition depots belonging to Iranian militias fighting on the side of the Assad government just a few kilometers from the Damascus airport south of the capital.

The Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the late-night strikes, in accordance with its policy to neither confirm nor deny its operations in Syria, save for those launched in retaliation for an attack from Israel’s northern neighbor.

Late last month, Syrian state media reported Israeli airstrikes near Damascus. Israeli media said the targets were linked to Iran.

A month ago, Israeli strikes reportedly targeted the area of Damascus International Airport, through which Iran had reportedly been flying advanced munitions, as well as military sites around the Damascus suburb of el-Kisweh, a long-time base of Iranian operations.

The strikes came days after drones reportedly bombed a shipment of advanced weapons that were being transported through Iraq into eastern Syria by Iranian proxies.

The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.

Tensions have been high in the Middle East in recent months as Iran and the US jockey for position ahead of expected nuclear negotiations.

A series of incidents at sea have also turned up the heat, including an explosion on an Israel-owned tanker in the Persian Gulf last month, an alleged attack on an Iranian ship and a report that said Israel targeted a series of Iranian ships headed to Syria.

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday blamed Israel for the blast on the Iranian ship last week and said Iran had the right to respond.

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