Syrian media says Israeli war planes attack near Homs
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Syrian media says Israeli war planes attack near Homs

No immediate comment from Israel; Syrian opposition says target of strike was al-Sharyat military airport used by Iran

F-16 jets fly above the Herzliya airport on November 15, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
F-16 jets fly above the Herzliya airport on November 15, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Syrian air defenses in the central province of Homs opened fire Tuesday night on missiles launched from what state media claimed were Israeli warplanes.

Syrian State TV said the warplanes fired the missiles while flying in Lebanese airspace. The outlet said the warplanes targeted a Syrian army position without saying where exactly. It said some of the missiles had been shot down, though Syrian media has been known to make such claims falsely.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an opposition war monitor, said Israeli warplanes fired eight missiles at al-Shayrat air base in Homs province. It said explosions were heard and believed to have been caused by anti-aircraft defenses while intercepting these strikes, but gave no further details.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

If the target was al-Shayrat base it would be the second time this month that the Israel Defense Forces has reportedly struck the site which is said to be used by Iran as a forward base for bringing weapons into the country.

On March 5, according to Syrian opposition sources, a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted four Hezbollah-linked sites in central and southern Syria.

SOHR said the Israeli attack targeted two military airports near the city of Homs in western-central Syria — al-Shayrat and al-Dabaa — as well as two locations in the area of Quneitra, across from Israel’s Golan Heights.

On March 2, as Israel held elections, the IDF bombed a Syrian vehicle that the military said was used in an attempted sniper attack on Israeli troops near the Golan border.

The IDF acknowledged the strike.

SOHR said the vehicle belonged to members of a militia loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In recent years, Israel has repeatedly carried out airstrikes in Syria against targets belonging to Iran and its regional proxies Hezbollah and other Shi’ite militias.

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 Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

Israel has in the past accused Iran of attempting to set up rocket launching crews and other “terror infrastructure” in the Syrian Golan Heights, to be used against Israel, as well as of trying to entrench a military presence in the country.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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