Syrian air defence shoots down Israeli missiles

DAMASCUS (AFP): Syria’s air defence system engaged “hostile targets” over the capital Damascus late Thursday, state news agency SANA reported, with a military source claiming they were Israeli missiles.

“The Israeli enemy launched an aerial attack… targeting positions near Damascus and around the city of Homs,” the military source told SANA.

“Our air defence responded to the missiles and shot most of them down,” it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a Britain-based war monitor, said that “Israeli missiles targeted arms depots and military positions of” Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, between Damascus and Homs.

Neither SANA nor the Observatory reported any damage or casualties.

Lebanese media also reported two missiles fell in the Qalamoun region bordering Lebanon.

The Israeli army rarely acknowledges its strikes in Syria and a spokesperson told AFP it did “not comment on foreign media information”.

However, since the start of the war in Syria ten years ago, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes on Syrian territory, targeting regime positions as well as allied Iranian forces and members of Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Israel regularly underlines that it will not allow Syria to become a stronghold of its sworn enemy Iran.

The Syrian conflict, which began in 2011 with the regime’s repression of pro-democracy protests, has grown increasingly complex over the past decade, drawing in more and more parties.

According to the Observatory, the war has left nearly half a million people dead.