Israeli jets said to strike targets south of Damascus for second time this week

Syrian military official claims country’s air defenses managed to thwart most of attack but says civilian injured, material damage caused

Syrian air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. (AFP)
Syrian air defenses respond to alleged Israeli missiles targeting south of the capital Damascus, on July 20, 2020. (AFP)

Israeli planes reportedly carried out a series of strikes south of Damascus early Friday morning.

A Syrian military official told state media that the county’s air defense systems managed to thwart most of the attack, but that the strikes caused one civilian injury as well as material damage.

The “Israeli aggression” began at around 4 a.m. with several projectiles being fired from the Golan Heights toward southern Damascus, Syrian state media reported

It was the second air raid attributed to Israel this week. Late Monday night, Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles targeted Syrian army positions also south of Damascus, causing damage but no casualties.

A Twitter account tracking Israeli military activity in Syria claimed the strikes targeted sites in the suburb of al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, and near the Damascus International Airport, southeast of the city. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported similar information. The claims could not immediately be independently verified.

There was no comment on the strike from Israel, which rarely publicizes such attacks.

According to Syrian state media, Israeli missiles targeted central Syria on May 13, killing five people including a civilian, and igniting fires on farmland in the area.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, firefighters work at the scene of a missile attack, at the port of the coastal city of Latakia, Syria, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (SANA via AP)

A day after that strike, the air forces of Russia and Syria conducted a joint drill over the latter country — the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began more than three months ago, Syria’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry said two Russian SU-35 fighter jets and six Syrian MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircraft simulated facing “hostile” warplanes and drones. Syrian pilots dealt with them with cover and support from the Russian warplanes, it said.

Russia became involved militarily in Syria in September 2015 helping to tip the balance of power in favor of President Bashar Assad’s forces in the 11-year conflict that has killed half a million people.

The last such joint drill was conducted a week before Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In mid-February, the Russian military deployed long-range nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets carrying state-of-the-art hypersonic missiles to Syria for massive naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. It says it targets bases of Iran-allied militias, such as Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group that has fighters deployed in Syria and fighting on the side of Assad’s government forces, as well as arms shipments believed to be bound for the militias.

Israeli strikes have continued in Syrian airspace, which is largely controlled by Russia, even as ties with Moscow have deteriorated in recent weeks. Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies.

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