Syrian state media on Friday evening said that Israel launched a strike against targets near Damascus and claimed the country’s air defenses downed a number of missiles.
“Aerial defenses detected hostile targets coming from the direction of Quneitra and dealt with them,” the official SANA news agency quoted a military source saying, referring to a Syrian town in the Golan Heights bordering Israel.
Reports in Syria said there were loud explosions south of Damascus, the capital.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported several explosions in the Al-Kiswah area outside the city, in the vicinity of Iranian and Hezbollah storage facilities and air defense batteries.
There was no response from the Israel Defense Forces, which rarely comments on reported strikes.
— החדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) May 17, 2019
The Israeli military has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years on targets linked to Iran, which is backing President Bashar Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war. Israel accuses Iran of seeking to set up a military presence in Syria that could be used to threaten the Jewish state.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, reported three explosions southwest of Damascus. It added that it was not immediately clear if the explosions were caused by Israeli airstrikes or surface-to-surface missiles.
The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, told The Associated Press that the strikes targeted the area of el-Kiswah, which is home to positions and storage sites for Iranian and Lebanon’s Hezbollah forces allied with Syria’s government.
In November 2017, Western intelligence officials told the BBC that Iran had established a permanent military base in el-Kiswah. Israel has reportedly hit the base several times.