Syrian air defence shoots down missiles over Homs

A file photo of a missile seen crossing over Damascus, Syria, on April 14, 2018.
A file photo of a missile seen crossing over Damascus, Syria, on April 14, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

DAMASCUS, Syria  (AFP) - Syrian air defence shot down missiles over the central province of Homs late Monday night, the state news agency said on Tuesday (April 17) , with the strikes reportedly targeting regime air bases.

State television showed pictures of a missile that was shot in the air above the air base only days after a US, British and French attack on Syrian targets in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on the city of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus.

The Syrian news agency did not give further details and it was unclear who was behind the attack, which Syrian state television branded as an "aggression".

A military source said the Syrian military believes Israeli warplanes were responsible.

Also a number of local reporters have said there are "Israeli warplanes" flying at high-altitude carrying out the attack after crossing the borders through Lebanon.

Asked about the missile attack, an Israeli military spokesman said, "We don't comment on such reports."

Israel has struck Syrian army locations many times in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Syrian President Bashar al Assad's forces.

A Pentagon spokesman said there was no US military activity in that area at this time. Shayrat airbase was targeted last year in a US cruise missile attack in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 70 people, including children on the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhoun. According to the Pentagon, US intelligence had established that the base was the launchpad for the alleged chemical attack.

Big explosions were heard on Monday night near the same air base, southeast of the city of Homs, and in eastern Qalamoun near Damascus where two other air bases are located, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights reported.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said missiles did not hit any of the air bases.