Syria, Israel say they repelled each other's strikes

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.01.2019 16:13
Snow is seen on Mount Qasion in the Syrian capital Damascus on January 17, 2019. (AFP Photo)
Snow is seen on Mount Qasion in the Syrian capital Damascus on January 17, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Syrian state media say air defenses repelled an Israeli air raid near the international airport south of Damascus on Sunday.

Syrian state TV said the air defenses "prevented" the attack from achieving its goals. It said Israel fired six missiles on an area near Damascus International Airport, of which five were shot down and one diverted to nearby empty farmland. It marked a rare daytime raid, as most previous strikes have been at night.

Residents of the capital said they heard five explosions early Sunday afternoon, apparently the sound of air defenses firing into the air.

Meanwhile, Israel's military said its air defence systems intercepted a rocket fired from Syria, after Damascus accused Israel of air raids in the country's south.

"A short while ago, a rocket was fired at the northern Golan Heights and was intercepted by the 'Iron Dome' aerial defence system," a military statement said.

A military spokeswoman confirmed to AFP the rocket was fired from Syria.

Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon's airspace recently to strike deep inside Syria, including on a warehouse near Damascus International Airport earlier this month, according to Syrian state media.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that Israel has struck hundreds of targets in Syria linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, including a weapons facility two weeks ago. Iran and Hezbollah are allied with the Syrian regime in the civil war.

Earlier Sunday, a roadside bomb went off south of Damascus without causing casualties, state media reported. The SANA news agency says the blast targeted a military checkpoint on a main highway during rush hour.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors the war, said the bomb targeted the vehicle of a "security personality" that it did not name. The Observatory's chief, Rami Abdurrahman, said it was unclear whether the individual was killed or wounded. "It was not a random act," he added.

Attacks have been rare in Damascus since Syrian regime forces captured the last rebel-held neighborhoods and suburbs of the capital last year. Bombings had left hundreds dead over the course of the nearly eight-year civil war.

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