Russia claims Syria intercepted Israeli missile in attack near Damascus

No confirmation of assertion in state media by senior Russian military official, in comments made the same day Moscow lashed out at Israel over its statements on Ukraine invasion

A Syrian anti-aircraft missile is fired near Damascus during an alleged Israeli airstrike on February 9, 2022. An errant anti-aircraft missile exploded over northern Israel. (SANA)
Illustrative: A Syrian anti-aircraft missile is fired near Damascus during an alleged Israeli airstrike, on February 9, 2022. (SANA)

A Russian military official claimed Syrian air defenses intercepted a missile that Israeli fighter jets allegedly fired at a target near Damascus Thursday night.

Rear Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev, one of Russia’s top commanders in Syria, said two Israeli F-16s flying over the Golan Heights each fired a precision-guided missile, according to state news agency TASS.

He added that the Syrian military shot down one of the missiles using a Russian-made Buk-2ME system, while the other struck a warehouse, causing damage but no injuries.

There was no independent confirmation of Zhuravlev’s claim. Damascus and Moscow, which is fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war, regularly assert that Syria intercepts Israeli missiles, though military analysts doubt such claims.

Zhuravlev’s comments were reported by TASS on the same day that the Russian Foreign Ministry lashed out at Foreign Minister Yair Lapid after Israel joined other countries in voting to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, though it was not clear if they were linked.

Russia has previously publicly expressed “deep concern” over the Israeli strikes, which have continued despite the Russian criticism and Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Russia — which intervened militarily on Assad’s behalf in 2015 — has also pledged coordination with Israel in order to continue to prevent their forces from clashing in Syria.

File: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speak during their meeting in Sochi, Russia, on October 22, 2021. (Evgeny Biyatov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The attack Thursday was the second in a week that Syria attributed to Israel, which has carried out hundreds of airstrikes there against Iranian-linked targets since the civil war began in 2011.

Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as it has increasingly spoken out in support of Ukraine. However, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has avoided criticizing Russia directly as Israel seeks to maintain its freedom of movement in Syria’s skies, though Lapid has been far more vocal in denouncing Moscow.

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