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Syria's air defences confront an 'Israeli aggression' in Masyaf

A Syrian air force MiG-23 fighter jet seen dropping a payload during an air strike in the rebel-held town of Arbin, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 7, 2018 [AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP via Getty Images]
A Syrian air force MiG-23 fighter jet seen dropping a payload during an air strike in the rebel-held town of Arbin, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on February 7, 2018 [AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP via Getty Images]

Syrian air defences confronted an "Israeli aggression" after midnight on Thursday in the Masyaf area in the Hama countryside, Reuters quoted Syrian state TV as saying, citing a military statement.

"At 12:40 this morning, the Israeli enemy launched an aggression by directing a barrage of missiles from the north of the Lebanese city of Tripoli towards the Masyaf area in the western Hama countryside," the statement said.

"Our air defences intercepted the missiles and downed most of them," it added.

Explosions were heard in Syria's central region, state TV reported earlier.

Read: Netanyahu warns Assad to keep Iran out of Syria or 'risk the future' of his regime

Israel has repeatedly bombed Iranian-backed militia targets in Syria, saying its goal was to end Tehran's military presence which Western intelligence sources say has expanded in recent years in the war-torn country.

In July, Israeli army helicopters struck military targets in southern Syria in retaliation for earlier "munitions" fire towards Israel. In January 2020, the Syrian army said Israeli jets attacked the main T4 air base in Homs province, and that its air defences downed several missiles in strikes that caused only material damage. In December 2019, it said the air defence system intercepted missiles fired from the direction of Israel aimed at targets on the outskirts Damascus.

Hezbollah has deployed fighters in Syria as part of Iranian-backed efforts to support President Bashar Al-Assad in a conflict that began after government forces brutally cracked down against peaceful protests calling for change in 2011.

Israel sees the presence of Hezbollah and its ally Iran in Syria as a strategic threat and has mounted hundreds of raids on Iranian-linked targets there. It captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, and the area remains occupied.

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