Assad regime shoots down 'hostile target' south of Damascus

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 29.11.2018 23:05
Updated 30.11.2018 00:45

The Syrian regime air force shot down a "hostile target" that was flying over the town of Kiswah, south of the capital Damascus, state media said.

Regime media quoted a military source but did not specify what the target was or where it came from.

Syrian opposition sources and groups on the ground said the area was close to where the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has a powerful presence with several bases.

Head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel Rahman said there are "weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah (group) as well as Iranian forces" in Kisweh.

The Observatory said later Thursday that Israeli jets bombed several areas near Damascus as well as in southern Syria.

"Israeli forces bombarded for an hour positions in the southern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus as well as in the south of Syria at the border of Quneitra province" the Observatory's chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets.

Assad regime air defenses in September opened fire to intercept alleged Israeli missiles targeting ammunition depots in the northwestern province of Latakia, but instead downed a Russian jet.

Abdel Rahman said Thursday was the first time the Assad regime's air defenses had been called into action since the incident on Sept. 17 in which 15 Russians were killed.

Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing of its jet on Israel, saying its plane used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed.

Following the incident, Russia sent advanced air defense missiles to Damascus.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia his country would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border.

He added that Israel would "continue security coordination" with Russia.

Iran is a key ally of Syria's Bashar Assad and supports a number of militias that have fought alongside the Syrian army and its allies.

Tehran has expanded its military presence in Syria through its proxies, and Hezbollah is by far the biggest militia.

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