Israeli jets reported to strike Syrian military site near Damascus
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Israeli jets reported to strike Syrian military site near Damascus

Syrian state TV claims its air defenses intercepted three missiles; reports come days after Israel said to hit Iranian base

A still from a video reportedly showing an Israeli air strike near Damascus on December 4, 2017. (screen capture: Twitter)
A still from a video reportedly showing an Israeli air strike near Damascus on December 4, 2017. (screen capture: Twitter)

Israel’s military struck a Syrian military installation on the outskirts of Damascus late Monday night, according to initial reports.

According to the reports out of Syria, the strike targeted the Jamarya military facility and research center, northwest of the Syrian capital.

“Israeli planes targeted the Jamarya region near Damascus including a scientific research center and warehouses where weapons and ammunition of the regime and its allies were stocked,” Rami Abdel Rahmane, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group told AFP.

An AFP correspondent in the capital also heard loud explosions.

Syrian state TV reported that its air defenses intercepted three missiles shot by Israel. The Syrian regime often makes such claims.

“Our air defenses blocked an Israeli missile attack on one of our positions in Damascus province and downed three of the targets,” Syrian state media said.

Video posted online from near Damascus showed flashes followed by large bangs, apparently showing either the strikes. An air defense missile can also be seen being shot.

The reports could be immediately confirmed. Israeli authorities do not generally comment on specific instances of air strikes.

The same site was reportedly targeted by Israeli jets in January 2013 targeting a convoy of Russian-made SA-17 missiles being transferred to the Hezbollah terror group, according to Western sources.

A Google Earth view of a Syrian scientific facility in Jamraya, near Damascus, before it was allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes in late January. (photo credit: image capture from Google Earth)
A Google Earth view of a Syrian scientific facility in Jamraya, near Damascus, before it was allegedly struck by Israeli warplanes in late January 2013. (photo credit: image capture from Google Earth)

Israel has for years been widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on advanced weapons systems in Syria — including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles — as well as Hezbollah positions, but it rarely confirms such operations on an individual basis.

In August a former commander of Israel’s air force said that it had carried out dozens of airstrikes on weapons convoys destined for the Hezbollah over the past five years. The remarks by Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel revealed for the first time the scale of the strikes, which are usually neither confirmed nor denied by the IAF.

The report comes three days after Israeli jets reportedly hit an Iranian military base being constructed in Syria, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Israel’s northern border.

Satellite images published earlier on Monday showed the destruction at that site, the al-Qiswah base south of Damascus.

A satellite image showing the results of an alleged Israeli airstrike on a reported Iranian base being set up outside Damascus, from December 4, 2017. (ImageSat International ISI)

Israel has long warned that Iran is trying to establish a permanent presence in Syria as part of its efforts to control a land corridor from Iran through to the Mediterranean Sea as it attempts to expand its influence across the Middle East.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said often that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent presence in Syria, and was reported late last month to have sent a warning to this effect via a third party to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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