Syria says Israeli airstrikes target Damascus, south

Syria said Israeli missiles targeted areas near Damascus late Friday, the first suspected Israeli airstrike on the country in over a month.

State media claimed the rockets were shot down over the capital and closer to the border with Israel.

“Our air defense intercepted Israeli missile strikes in Damascus airspace and the southern region,” Syria’s official SANA news agency said.

The alleged attack would be the first since September 17, when an apparent Israeli attack around the capital Damascus killed five soldiers last month.

In June, Israeli airstrikes shut down the Damascus airport for nearly two weeks.

A pair of sorties targeting Aleppo airport in early September also forced that facility to close.

The alleged attack comes a day after the Israeli military launched a week-long exercise in the country’s north.

Since Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against its northern neighbor, targeting government troops as well as Iran-backed allied forces and Hezbollah fighters. Syria regularly claims to have intercepted the majority of Israeli missiles, which analysts generally dismiss as empty boasts.

Although Israel rarely comments on individual strikes, it has admitted to carrying out hundreds.

She says her air campaign is necessary to stop enemy Iran from gaining a foothold on its doorstep.

The rare break in strikes coincided with high-stakes negotiations to resolve a long-running maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon, which ended with an agreement earlier this month. A brief hiccup in the talks briefly raised tensions along the northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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Earlier this week, a senior Israeli defense official and two senior Western diplomats told the New York Times that Russia had removed its S-300 anti-aircraft system from Syria to support its war effort against Syria, a move that would could give Israel more freedom. Syria’s sky, even if ties with Moscow have broken.

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