Syria says air defenses hit ‘enemy targets’ amid alleged IAF strikes near Damascus

Syrian media reports some damage in strikes; war monitor says 8 injured in attacks around capital, where Hezbollah, Iranian operatives are based

Illustrative: A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on July 19, 2023, shows a ball of light in the sky during Israeli air strikes near Damascus. (SANA / AFP)
Illustrative: A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on July 19, 2023, shows a ball of light in the sky during Israeli air strikes near Damascus. (SANA / AFP)

Israeli airstrikes were reported in the area around the Syrian capital of Damascus on Sunday night, resulting in some damage, according to Syrian state media.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said air defenses engaged “enemy targets” over Damascus and blasts were heard across the city. It said the IAF fighter jets launched their missiles from over the Golan Heights, targeting sites near the capital.

A Syrian military source told the agency that “at approximately 23:05p.m. today, the Israeli enemy carried out an air aggression from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan [Heights], targeting some points in the vicinity of Damascus.”

“Our air defenses responded to the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them, and the losses were limited to material losses,” the source said.

There has been no comment from Israel on the alleged airstrikes, which come two days after four people were killed in an alleged Israeli drone strike on a vehicle near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on Friday.

Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, later said three of its fighters had been killed. Among them was Hassan Ali Dakdouk, the son of Ali Mussa Dakdouk, thought to be in charge of the terror group’s operations in southern Syria. The Kan public broadcaster reported that the elder Dakdouk was responsible for training pro-Iranian militias in Iraq with the aim of attacking American forces. He was detained by US forces in Iraq in 2007, but was later released.

While Israel’s military does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed terror groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade. The Israeli military says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said late Sunday that the airstrikes targeted a number of targets areas around Damascus including a countryside site close to Quneittra, an area around Sayyida Zeinab just south of the capital, and the Damascus airport where Hezbollah and Iranian militias are known to operate. All three sites have been targeted before

The organization, run by a single person, has regularly been accused by Syrian war analysts of false and inaccurate reporting.

SOHR said eight people were hurt in the alleged airstrikes Sunday, including five combatants.

Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, when thousands of terrorists massacred some 1,200 people in Israel and took some 240 hostages, Israel’s northern front on the border with Lebanon has heated up under constant Hezbollah-led attacks.

Daily exchanges of fire with Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups have been raising fears of a broader conflagration.

The skirmishes on the border have resulted in four civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of six IDF soldiers. There have also been a number of rocket attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

On the Lebanese side, more than 120 have been killed, according to an AFP tally. The toll includes 98 Hezbollah members — some of whom were killed in Syria –, 16 Palestinian terrorists, at least 14 civilians and three journalists.

Over the past two months, Israel has struck Syria several times. In October, Israeli strikes put Syria’s two main airports in Damascus and Aleppo out of service several times.

During more than a decade of civil war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes on its northern neighbor, primarily targeting Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces as well as Syrian army positions.

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