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Syria says Israel fired missiles toward Damascus, hit airport warehouse

Israeli military fighter jet [file photo]
Israeli military fighter jet [file photo]

The Syrian state news agency said Israeli warplanes fired a number of missiles toward the Damascus area on Friday, triggering Syrian air defences that shot down most of them.

“The results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the warehouses at Damascus airport,” the SANA news agency cited a military source as saying. The attack took place at 11:15 p.m.(2115 GMT), it said.

Syrian state media broadcast footage of what it said were the air defences firing, with bright lights seen shooting across the night sky. Explosions were heard in one of the videos.

Israel acknowledged on Sunday that it carried out the air strike on what it called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.

Long wary of publicity around its operations against Iran-linked targets on its northern front, Israel has been lifting the veil in recent days – a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tension with Syria’s big-power backer, Russia. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also be playing up his security credentials as he seeks re-election on April 9.

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“We have been taking action with impressive success to arrest Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks, saying this entailed “hundreds” of attacks over the past several years of Syria’s civil war, in which Iranian and Hezbollah forces have backed the Damascus government against rebels and Islamist insurgents.

“In just the last 36 hours, the air force struck Iran’s warehouses, containing Iranian arms, in Damascus international airport,” he added, referring to a Friday night sortie that Syria said it had answered with anti-aircraft fire.

Israel has mounted attacks in Syria as part of its effort to counter the influence carved out there by Iran, which has supported President Bashar al-Assad in the war that erupted in 2011.

The last Israeli attack reported by Syrian state media was on December 25, when a missile attack wounded three Syrian soldiers.

A senior Israeli official said in September Israel had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Iranian and Iran-backed groups including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed into Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s government during the war.

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