Syria says it shot down 3 Israeli missiles near Damascus

BEIRUT - Syrian air defence units shot down three Israeli missiles that were targeting a military post near the capital, Damascus, only days after the Jewish state hit a military position nearby, Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.

There was no Israeli comment on the incident.

SANA did not say whether some of the missiles hit the target and did not give any word on casualties. It said the attack occurred around midnight on Monday.

The attack comes three days after Syria said Israel fired several surface-to-surface missiles at a military post near Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.

"Our air defence units confronted an Israeli aggression with missiles on one of our military posts in the countryside of Damascus and shot down three of them" SANA said.

The opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was an Israeli airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Jamraya, which is home to a government research centre.

There have been some media reports that said Saturday's missile attack near the Damascus suburb of Kiswa targeted an Iranian military position. The Observatory said at the time that the area hit Saturday had Iranian and Hezbollah presence, but added that it was not clear if they were targeted.

Though Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's government forces in the civil war, now in its seventh year.

Israel has also struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In September, Israeli warplanes hit a military position near the Mediterranean coast in western Syria, killing two soldiers and causing material damage.

Last month, the Israeli military said it shot down a drone above the Golan Heights that tried to infiltrate its airspace from Syria, using a Patriot missile. It said the drone was operated by the Syrian government and was shot down in the demilitarized zone between the two countries. And in September, Israel said it shot down an Iranian-made drone sent by Hezbollah in the same area. Iran has also backed Assad in Syria's conflict.

Israel opposes a permanent military presence in Syria of the Iranians and Hezbollah, fearing possible attacks in the future, and has raised the matter in the past with Russia, another main backer of Assad.


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