Syrian air defense intercepts Israeli projectiles, regime says

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
DAMASCUS
Published 17.05.2019 23:47

Syrian air defense batteries on Friday intercepted projectiles coming from Israel and downed a number of them, Assad regime-linked news agency SANA reported.

"Our air defense systems intercepted luminous objects coming from the occupied territories (Israel) and downed several of them," SANA said quoting a military source.

A later report described the projectiles as "hostile targets" which were fired "towards the province of Quneitra" near the Golan Heights, parts of which are illegally annexed by Israel.

Earlier SANA reported a "loud explosion" around the capital Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said "three explosions" shook southwest Damascus on Friday.

"They were Israeli strikes that targeted the Kiswah region where weapons warehouses belonging to Iran and (its Lebanese proxy) Hezbollah are located," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, most of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

The latest report comes amid soaring tensions in the region between Israel's arch-foe Iran and the United States.

The stand-off had been simmering since the United States last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear treaty which Iran reached with major world powers.

In recent days the US accused Iran of alleged threats and last week deployed an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.

In April, Syria said an Israeli air strike targeted a town in central Hama province north of Damascus, wounding three combatants and destroying buildings.

Regime media at the time said Syrian air defences intercepted "some of the Israeli missiles".

In March, Assad regime accused Israel of having attacked targets just north of second city Aleppo, adding that it air defenses had shot down several missiles, after a string of Israeli raids in January.

On January 12, 2019, Assad regime air defenses shot down Israeli missiles targeting a transport ministry warehouse at the Damascus international airport, SANA reported at the time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that strike and said Israel was "more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria."

Just over a week later Israel announced its Iron Dome aerial defence system had intercepted a rocket fired from Syria by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.

In response, Israeli fighter jets carried out further strikes inside Syria, targeting Iranian facilities and Syrian aerial defence batteries.

The Observatory said that at least 21 people, mostly Iranians, were killed in the January raids.

Israel insists that it has the right to continue to target positions in Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

Netanyahu has vowed not to let Iran -- which backs Syria's Bashar al-Assad -- entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.

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