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Syria downs Israeli missiles near Damascus airport, state media says

Israel has previously acknowledged carrying out air strikes in Syria aimed at degrading capacity of Iran
Syrian air defence responds to what state media say are Israeli missiles targeting Damascus airport (AFP)

Syrian military air defences downed several missiles that Israel fired in an act of "aggression" near Damascus airport on Saturday, Syrian state media has said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said Israel does not comment on foreign reports, according to the Reuters news agency.

Israel has previously acknowledged carrying out air strikes in Syria aimed at degrading the capacity of Iran and its allies, including Lebanon's Hezbollah group, which back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's seven-year civil war, Israel's Haaretz newspaper said.

"Our air defence systems thwarted an Israeli missile aggression on Damascus International Airport," Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source as saying. The agency gave no immediate report of casualties or damage.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, said Saturday's strikes hit a weapons depot outside the airport where weapons had recently arrived.

"The missiles, suspected to be Israeli, destroyed an arms warehouse near the Damascus international airport," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency.

He had no immediate information on casualties.

Witnesses at a major trade fair in the capital Damascus said they saw flares shooting up into the night sky.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his country was taking action to stop its foes from acquiring sophisticated arms.

"Israel is constantly working to prevent our enemies from arming themselves with advanced weaponry," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying at the start of his cabinet's weekly meeting.

Israel's air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Hezbollah.

In May, Israel said it attacked almost all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria, after Iranian forces fired rockets at Israeli-held territory for the first time in the most extensive military exchange ever between the two adversaries, Haaretz reported.