Syria says Israeli airstrikes target Damascus, south
State media claims missiles shot down in what would be first alleged attack since bombing of Damascus airport that killed five over a month ago
Syria said Israeli missiles targeted areas near Damascus late Friday, the first alleged Israeli airstrike on the country in over a month.
State media claimed that missiles were shot down over the capital and closer to the border with Israel.
“Our air defenses intercepted Israeli missile strikes in the airspace of Damascus and the southern region,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said.
The alleged attack would be the first since September 17, when an apparent Israeli strike around the capital Damascus killed five soldiers last month.
In June, Israeli airstrikes put Damascus airport out of service for nearly two weeks.
A pair of sorties targeting the Aleppo airport in early September also forced that facility to shut down.
The alleged strike comes a day after Israel’s military launched a week-long drill across the country’s north.
Since civil war erupted in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against its northern neighbor, targeting government troops as well as allied Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters. Syria regularly claims to have intercepted most Israeli missiles, which analysts generally dismiss as empty boasts.
While Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds.
It says its air campaign is necessary to stop arch-foe Iran gaining a foothold on its doorstep.
The rare lull in strikes coincided with high-stakes negotiations to settle a longstanding maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon that ended in an agreement earlier this month. A brief hiccup in the talks had briefly raised tensions along the northern frontier with Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Earlier this week, a senior Israeli defense official and two senior Western diplomats told the New York Times that Russia had removed its S-300 anti-aircraft system from Syria to bolster its war effort against Syria, a move that could give Israel more freedom over Syria’s skies even as ties with Moscow have cratered.