Israeli missiles strike airport on outskirts of Syrian capital

#SyriaWar

Second time in eight days that Israeli jets had targeted positions just outside Damascus

An Israeli Air Force F-16 (AFP)
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Thursday 8 December 2016 9:51 UTC
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A barrage of Israeli missiles struck an airbase outside Damascus overnight without causing any casualties, Syrian state media reported on Wednesday.

According to the Al-Mayadeen television channel, the jets targeted the Mezzeh military airport, with loud explosions in the neighbourhood reported on social media. 

Syrian State news agency SANA said the missiles were fired from a position "west of Tal Abu Nada", a mountain in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights known as Mount Avital in Israel. 

"At 3:00 am (01:00 GMT) the Israeli enemy fired several surface to surface missiles from inside occupied territory," the state news agency SANA said, citing a military source. 

The media agency said the missiles caused a fire but no casualties. 

READ MORE: Israel's window to hit weapons convoys in Syria is closing – and fast 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, earlier reported the sounds of explosions in the area of the airbase and said fires had erupted inside the facility afterwards.

It did not confirm the source of the explosions.

The Mezzeh airbase, less than eight kilometres (five miles) southwest of Damascus, hosts the headquarters of the feared air force intelligence service and its notorious prison.

It was the second time in eight days that Israel, which is technically still at war with Syria, had targeted positions outside Damascus.

Last week, Damascus alleged that Israeli jets attacked west of Damascus, with reports in Arab media saying an arms convoy intended for Hezbollah was the target. 

The news came amid tensions along Israel's northern border after clashes between the Israeli army and militants affiliated with the Islamic State group. 

Israel has sought to limit its involvement in the five-year conflict in Syria, but has carried out sporadic sorties against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah inside Syria.

The Lebanese militant group, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006, had sent thousands of its men to fight alongside Syrian government troops.

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

Meanwhile two Turkish soldiers were killed while fighting IS in northern Syria on Saturday. 

Three soldiers were wounded in the attack and taken to a hospital in the Turkish border town of Kilis, according to Turkish state media. 

Eighteen soldiers have been killed since the military began an unprecedented operation inside Syria on 24 August to back pro-Ankara rebels.

Six soldiers have been killed this week alone, including four by an air strike the army said it believed was carried out by forces of Assad. 

Turkey launched the operation in August dubbed Euphrates Shield in support of Syrian rebels seeking to retake IS held territory in northern Syria and also to halt the advance of Kurdish militias. 

Since it began, the pro-Ankara rebels have captured the IS stronghold of Jarabulus, cleared IS from Al Rai and retaken the symbolically important town of Dabiq without much resistance.

With Turkish support, they are now pressing to take al-Bab from the militants in an advance that appears to be taking more time and encountering greater opposition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the purported deadly Syrian air strike in telephone talks on Friday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Assad's main ally.