Syria says Israel attacked posts held by its military, allied militias

Monitor group reports strikes targeted site in south of country where Hezbollah has installed a radar system; some missiles reportedly intercepted

Illustrative: Missiles rise into the sky as Israel hits an air defense position and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, May 10, 2018. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)
Illustrative: Missiles rise into the sky as Israel hits an air defense position and other military bases, in Damascus, Syria, May 10, 2018. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP)

An Israeli missile attack targeted Syrian military positions held by the government and its allies early on Wednesday, Syria’s state news agency said.

Local media reported that air defenses shot down several missiles around half past midnight.

State news agency SANA and state TV said that the “Israeli aggression” struck al-Harra hill in south of the country, which is home to Syrian army posts. The reports said the strikes only caused material damage and did not inflict any casualties.

The attacks were earlier described as “probably Israeli” by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group, which said they targeted al-Harra in Daraa province, south of Damascus, and two areas in the neighboring province of Quneitra.

“The regime’s anti-aircraft defense has been activated to counter the attack,” the director of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahmane, said.

“Some missiles have been shot down, others have hit their target.”

The Observatory reported “loss of life” without giving further details.

Israeli strikes have previously targeted al-Harra hill, where Hezbollah has installed a radar system and the Syrian regime has erected anti-aircraft batteries, according to the Observatory.

According to Reuters, Western intelligence sources have said the area is home to several Iranian-backed militias.

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.

The last reported strikes took place earlier this month, when multiple Iranian-linked targets were hit near Homs and Damascus, reportedly killing 15 people including six civilians.

Syria then accused Israel of committing “state terrorism.”

Israel did not comment on the attack — one of the most extensive series of strikes in several months.

Syria’s foreign ministry filed a complaint with the United Nations Security Council over the attack, demanding accountability, according to the official SANA news agency.

A private Israeli intelligence firm identified one of the sites targeted in the alleged Israeli airstrike as a hangar likely storing advanced weaponry or other military equipment.

AFP and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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