ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 150

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Syrian anti-aircraft missile explodes over Israel as IAF said to strike in Homs

Military issues no special instructions after large blast shakes central and southern Israel; shrapnel lands in Rahat, 140 miles from the Syrian border

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The tail and nose of what appears to be a S-200 anti-aircraft missile, launched from Syria, after it exploded over Israel and landed in the southern city of Rahat, early July 1, 2023. (Courtesy)
The tail and nose of what appears to be a S-200 anti-aircraft missile, launched from Syria, after it exploded over Israel and landed in the southern city of Rahat, early July 1, 2023. (Courtesy)

An anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria exploded over Israeli airspace in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, causing shrapnel to fall in the southern city of Rahat, as the Israeli Air Force allegedly carried out strikes near the Syrian city of Homs.

Syria’s state news agency, SANA, said the IAF had targeted a number of sites near Homs in the strike, causing unspecified “material losses.”

SANA said Syrian air defenses responded to the “Israeli aggression” on Homs. Syria regularly claims to intercept missiles launched by Israeli warplanes, though military analysts doubt such assertions.

The Syrian news agency did not report any injuries.

Amid the strike, residents of central and southern Israel reported hearing a large blast.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that the launch of an anti-aircraft missile from Syria toward Israel was identified. “The missile likely exploded mid-air,” the IDF said.

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

Shrapnel of what appeared to be parts of a surface-to-air missile from a Russian-made S-200 system landed in the southern city of Rahat, footage showed.

The nose of the missile crashed into the side of a building, causing slight damage, and the tail landed in an open field near the city. Firefighters and police forces were called to the scene.

Rahat is located some 230 kilometers (142 miles) from Israel’s border with Syria, and 415km (257 miles) from Homs.

The nose of what appears to be an S-200 anti-aircraft missile, launched from Syria, after it exploded over Israel and landed in the southern city of Rahat, early July 1, 2023. (Courtesy)

The IDF said there were no special instructions for civilians following the incident.

No sirens sounded in Israel after the Syrian missile entered Israeli airspace.

Though uncommon, Syrian surface-to-air missiles fired at Israeli fighter jets have in the past caused damage and triggered sirens in Israel as they fell back into airspace.

In February 2022, sirens sounded in northern Israel and some West Bank settlements after a Syrian air defense missile exploded over the area, raining down shrapnel. In two separate incidents in 2021, shrapnel from S-200 missiles landed in Tel Aviv and in the southern community of Ashalim.

In a similar case in 2019, a Syrian S-200 missile that was fired at an Israeli jet crashed in northern Cyprus, causing a large explosion and sparking a fire.

In 2018, an IAF F-16 fighter jet crashed in northern Israel after being hit by shrapnel from a Syrian anti-aircraft missile. Both pilots survived.

An S-200 interceptor missile on display at the Ukrainian Air Force Museum. (George Chernilevsky/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Israel has regularly accused the Syrian military of wildly firing large amounts of anti-aircraft missiles in response to its strikes.

While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

The Israeli military says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

The last reported Israeli strike in Syria occurred on June 14, when a soldier was seriously hurt after IAF jets struck a site near the capital Damascus.

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