Israeli planes carried out airstrikes against targets in Syria for the second night this week, Damascus said early Thursday.
The state-run SANA broadcaster reported that Syrian air defenses were confronted “Israeli aggression” in the skies near Homs in western Syria, near the Lebanese border.
It said Israeli jets fired missiles from off the coast north of Beirut — not far from the city’s port, according to Lebanese reports — at targets in al-Qusayr, a town near Homs, just after 1 a.m.
The report claimed “most of the hostile missiles” were shot down. Syrian war analysts generally believe that such claims — heard after nearly every Israeli airstrike — are false, empty boasts.
According to reports from Syrian news outlets, the T-4 airbase, east of Homs, was also targeted in the strike. The T-4 base, which is believed to be an Iranian stronghold, has been struck by Israel multiple times over the years.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 21, 2021
Video published by the agency showed what appeared to be anti-aircraft missiles streaking into the night sky, and witnesses on the ground reported hearing explosions.
— QalaatM (@QalaatM) July 21, 2021
Israel’s military does not comment on reports of specific strikes in Syria save for those that are in retaliation for attacks from the country.
Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war-monitor told Saudi Arabia’s al-Hadath TV that it appeared Israel was targeting Hezbollah sites in Syria, as part of a recent shift in tactic by Israel’s new government.
The attack comes as tensions between Israel and its northern neighbors have ratcheted up in recent days.
Late Monday, Israeli aircraft reportedly fired missiles at a number of sites near Aleppo in northern Syria.
The Britain-based Observatory, a pro-opposition group of unclear funding that has activists on the ground in Syria, said the Israeli strikes on Monday targeted weapons depots that belong to Iranian-backed militia operating in the area. The group said the strikes were followed by loud explosions. The weapons depots were located inside Syrian military posts, the group said.
Russia claimed on Tuesday that Syrian air defenses managed to knock down seven of eight missiles fired on Monday.
Hours later, two rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanon, drawing an Israeli artillery response and vows from Israeli leaders to not let any such attacks pass quietly.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. Israel fears Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Hezbollah.
According to the observatory, Israel had carried out 14 attacks in 2021 prior to Thursday, destroying some 40 buildings and killing 104 people.