Damascus air defence downs Israeli missiles

A Sana photo reportedly shows Syrian air defence batteries responding to Israeli missiles.
A Sana photo reportedly shows Syrian air defence batteries responding to Israeli missiles.PHOTO: AFP

DAMASCUS • An Israeli missile attack targeted the Syrian capital's airport, activating air defences that shot down a number of the projectiles, state news agency Sana reported.

"Our air defences responded to an Israeli missile attack on Damascus International Airport and shot down a number of hostile missiles," a military source quoted by Sana said. The agency, without giving any information on casualties or damage, posted footage and images of the air defences being activated last Saturday night.

In a shaky video, a small, bright explosion is seen in the night sky, with city lights in the distance.

Agence France-Presse's (AFP) correspondent in Damascus heard a loud blast late last Saturday, followed by several smaller explosions. The Israeli military declined to comment on the incident.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said last Saturday's strikes hit a weapons depot outside the airport. "The missiles, suspected to be Israeli, destroyed an arms warehouse near the Damascus International Airport," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. He had no immediate information on casualties.

Israel has vowed to prevent its arch-foe Iran, which is a main backer of Syria's government, from gaining a foothold in neighbouring war-torn Syria.

Earlier this month, Israel acknowledged having carried out more than 200 strikes in Syria over the past 18 months, mainly against Iranian targets. It has also admitted to striking Syria to prevent what it says are deliveries of advanced weaponry to Lebanon's Hizbollah, an armed movement backed by Iran and which fights alongside Syrian troops.

  • >200

    Number of strikes Israel acknowledged having carried out in Syria over the past 18 months, mainly against Iranian targets.

The last reported Israeli strikes on Syria took place on Sept 4, when Syrian state media said the military's air defences downed several missiles in the coastal province of Tartus and in central Hama.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2018, with the headline 'Damascus air defence downs Israeli missiles'. Print Edition | Subscribe