Syria says Israel strikes bases near Damascus, claims to intercept missiles

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Monitor says least three government and Iranian positions targeted in raids on several sites around Syrian capital; no comment from IDF.

Syrian state media said early Thursday that Israel launched strikes against several targets near Damascus and claimed the country’s air defenses downed a number of missiles.

“Our air defenses confronted an Israeli attack” west of the capital, said state news agency SANA, adding that the attack was carried out from “occupied Syrian” airspace in the Golan heights.

They “were able to shoot down most of the enemy missiles before they reached their targets”, SANA said.

AFP correspondents in several districts of Damascus heard loud explosions around 1:15 am (2315 GMT).

State television broadcast images showing explosions in the sky.

SANA specified that the Israeli strikes targeted the al-Kiswah area– already targeted several times in the past — but also Marj al-Sultan and Jisr Baghdad.

At least three government and Iranian positions near Damascus and west of the capital had been targeted, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which said a fire broke out in one of the areas.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out many raids against Syrian government forces and their allies, Iran and Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah group.

In November 2017, Western intelligence officials told the BBC that Iran had established a permanent military base in el-Kiswah, known as T-4.  Israel has reportedly hit the base several times.

In mid-January, Damascus again accused the Israeli air force of carrying out an attack on the T4 military airport in central Syria.

Israel regularly insists that it will not let Syria become a bridgehead for Tehran. Israel accuses Iran of seeking to set up a military presence in Syria that could be used to threaten the Jewish state.

In November, the Israeli army claimed responsibility for a series of air strikes against government military sites and Iranian forces that killed 23 people including 16 foreigners, according to SOHR.

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