Syria: Israeli missiles target Damascus military outposts
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s military accused Israel of launching missiles targeting its outposts near Damascus in a wave of three pre-dawn attacks Tuesday and claimed that the Syrian air force hit one of the Israeli jets and shot down several of the missiles.
In a statement, the army said the Syrian air defense confronted the early morning attacks on military outposts in the area of Qutayfeh in the Damascus countryside.
Several missiles were first launched from Lebanese airspace at 2:40 a.m., followed by two ground to ground missiles at 3:04 a.m. that were launched from the occupied Golan Heights and four missiles at 4:14 a.m., launched from the Tiberias area, or the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, the statement said.
The military said the attacks caused material damage.
The Israeli military declined to comment on the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to ambassadors of NATO countries in Israel on Tuesday, said the policies had not changed.
“We have a long-standing policy to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory,” Netanyahu said. “This policy has not changed, we back it up as necessary with action.”
Israel has carried out dozens of airstrikes inside Syria in the course of Syria’s civil war, against what it says are suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces. Tuesday’s strike was the first this year.
The Syrian army statement described the attack as a “flagrant Israeli aggression” and renewed its warning of the dangerous repercussions of such attacks, holding Israel “fully responsibility for its consequences.”
Some Syrian opposition-affiliated media reported that the Israeli planes targeted a Syrian army depot while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the depots belonged to both Hezbollah and the Syrian army, adding that the strikes caused a series of explosions and a fire on site as well as serious material damage.
The Observatory, which monitors the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said there was no immediate word on any casualties.
The exact target could not be independently confirmed. Qutayfeh is in the northeastern suburbs of Damascus where Syrian Republican Guard units are known to have major outposts.
This story has been corrected to show that Damascus says Israeli jet was hit, not downed, and that the units based in Qutayfeh are the Syrian Republican Guard, not Iranian forces.