Syria reports Israeli strikes near Damascus
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Syria reports Israeli strikes near Damascus

State media claims to intercept several missiles fired from Lebanese airspace; incident comes a day after Israel’s defense minister hinted at forthcoming anti-Iranian effort

Illustrative: A Syrian anti-aircraft missile fired over Damascus on April 27, 2020 (screencapture/Twitter)
Illustrative: A Syrian anti-aircraft missile fired over Damascus on April 27, 2020 (screencapture/Twitter)

Syria accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes on a military airfield near Damascus just before dawn on Monday, saying that its air defense units had “confronted the Israeli aggression.”

Though the Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the allegation, the attack came a day after Defense Minister Naftali Bennett hinted that the military was poised to take action in Syria.

“Keep your ears open. We’ve gone from a policy of blocking [Iran] to pushing it out,” Bennett told the 103FM radio station on Sunday.

It was the third attack on Iranian targets in Syria attributed to Israel in the past 10 days.

Syrian state news agency SANA said limited damage was caused by the strikes on the Mezzeh military airport outside Damascus, but no casualties. The airbase, reportedly used by Iranian forces in Syria, has been attacked several times in airstrikes attributed to Israel.

According to SANA, Israeli jets fired several of the missiles in the attack from Lebanese airspace, and they were intercepted.

Syria state media regularly claims that the Syrian military intercepts incoming Israeli missiles, though those assertions are viewed as highly questionable.

Video posted to social media showed several anti-aircraft missiles being fired into the air, followed by loud explosions.

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

Last week Syria accused Israel of hitting targets near Homs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the targets were “military posts for Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert.”

Jerusalem says Iran’s presence in Syria, where it is fighting in support of President Bashar Assad, is a threat, as Tehran seeks to establish a permanent foothold along Israel’s northern borders.

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