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Syria: Israeli missiles downed near Damascus airport

By Sheetal Sukhija, Zimbabwe News
16 Sep 2018, 08:07 GMT+10

DAMASCUS, Syria - Calling it an act of "aggression," the Syrian state media slammed Israel, accusing it of firing "several missiles" targetting Damascus.

On Saturday, the war-torn country's state media said in a report that the Syrian military air defenses had downed several missiles that Israel fired in an act of “aggression” near the Damascus International Airport.

State news agency SANA said in its report, "Syrian defense systems were activated and a number of missiles were intercepted."

Further, the report cited a military source as saying, "Our air defense systems thwarted an Israeli missile aggression."

Before the state media report appeared, local reports in the country noted that loud blasts were heard near the Damascus airport. 

However, the Syrian government stated that the loud explosions were part of "controlled detonation of terrorist tunnels."

The SANA report noted later that the missile attack by Israel on Saturday night shoot the capital and blasts were heard across the city. 

However, when questioned about the accusation, an Israeli military spokeswoman said that "Israel does not comment on foreign reports."

Meanwhile, Syria's claims of thwarting a missile attack were backed by the Britain-based war monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Head of the monitoring group, Rami Abdurrahman said that the missile attack "targeted an arms depot near the airport where new weapons recently arrived for the Iranians or Lebanon's Hezollah group."

Rising tensions as war closes

Over the last seven years, Syria's growing clout with Iran has angered and alarmed Israel. 

With its arch enemy Iran, closely allied with the Syrian President  Bashar al Assad, Israel has repeated targeted Syria.

The Israeli air force has struck several targets within Syria over the years, with the number of strikes increasing dramatically as Syrian forces continued to drive out rebels and regain more ground. 

In the rare instances where Israel has confirmed striking Syrian targets, it has claimed that it was targetting Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in the war.

The latest accusation by Syria comes merely two weeks after the Syrian state media claimed that Israeli jets attacked military targets in the Syrian northwestern city of Hama. 

At the time, Syrian media claimed that the attack targetted Iranian positions. 

Before that, last month, a report claimed that a senior Syrian chemical weapons development scientist had been killed, sent shockwaves through the region.

The high profile weapons developer was reportedly killed in a car explosion in the Syrian northwestern city of Masyaf.

Announcing the death of Dr. Aziz Asber, who ran a scientific development center in the city, the Syrian media attributed the attack to Israel's Mossad espionage agency. 

The report claimed that Dr. Asber's development center in Masyaf had been attacked several times. 

The city came under attack a month before that too, when several strikes on Masyaf on July 22 were attributed to Israel. 

In May this year, Israel made the rare acknowledgement and broke with its tradition of never commenting on attacks it has been accused of - by blaming that it had attacked nearly all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria.

Israel argued that it had launched the attacks after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory.

This emerged as the most extensive military exchange ever between the two adversaries. 

Earlier this month, a senior IDF official was quoted as saying that over the past year-and-a-half, the Israeli military has struck over 200 targets and fired 800 missiles and mortar shells.

The loud blasts heard from a military airbase in Damascus earlier this month, were attributed to an electrical problem by the Syrian government at the time. 

However, the Syrian Human Rights Center has claimed that Israel was behind the attack at the military airbase in Damascus.

The group has also claimed that several people were injured and killed in the attack.

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