Syrian officer: Israel-US cyberattack triggered missile defenses
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Syrian officer: Israel-US cyberattack triggered missile defenses

Pro-regime commander says Russian experts have been brought in to help, after incident over city of Homs overnight that was initially thought to be a missile strike

Illustrative: Syrian government forces man a checkpoint at the President Square in Homs on February 25, 2017, as security measures were tightened following a number of suicide attacks. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
Illustrative: Syrian government forces man a checkpoint at the President Square in Homs on February 25, 2017, as security measures were tightened following a number of suicide attacks. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

A false alarm caused by a “joint electronic operation” carried out by Israel and the US led to the firing of air defenses missile over Syria overnight Monday, a commander of militia forces supporting the regime said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters on Tuesday, the commander said that the Syrian radar system had been targeted in the alleged cyberattack and that Russian experts were brought in to resolve the issue.

Syrian state news originally reported overnight that missiles targeting government air bases had been shot down over the western city of Homs, but later said the air defense systems had been triggered by a false alarm.

Large explosions were heard near Al Shayrat Air base in Homs province, and in eastern Qalamoun near Damascus, where two other air bases are located, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported.

Following initial reports that a strike had been carried out by Israel, an IDF spokesman said he was “not aware of such an incident.”

In Washington, Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said that “there are no US or coalition operations in that area.”

Shayrat air base was targeted by US Tomahawk missiles in April last year in a strike ordered by President Donald Trump in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in Idlib.

According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.

On Saturday, a volley of American, British, and French missiles slammed Syrian military positions in Homs province and around Damascus.

And on April 9, Syria accused Israel of striking the T-4 air base in Homs.

Both the US and Israel appeared to deny involvement in Monday night’s incident.

An Israeli military spokesman said he was “not aware” of the incident and US defense spokeswoman Heather Babb said there were no American operations in the area.

AFP contributed to this report.

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