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Israel launches strikes near Damascus: Syrian state TV

Israel has carried out many deadly air strikes in Syria, against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets
Previous Israeli missile en route to Syria (AFP/file photo)

Syrian air defences shot down projectiles coming from "occupied territory," a reference to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Reuters news agency reported, citing Syrian state television.

Residents in Damascus told Reuters on Friday that they heard several loud blasts shortly before the television news bulletin that reported the incident.

The number of projectiles fired, their purported targets and their impact remain unclear.

No one has taken responsibility for the alleged attack.

Syria's state television channel showed footage of the night sky illuminated by an unidentified point of light and the sound of shooting, Reuters said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, many of them deadly, against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

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Last month, an Israeli air strike in central Syria wounded three combatants, state news agency SANA said.

A UK-based activist group claimed that several Iranian fighters were killed in the April attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strike killed several Iranian fighters and wounded 17 Syrian troops and their allies.

With the support of US President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed repeatedly to take whatever military action he deems necessary to prevent Iran and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, from establishing a continuing military presence in Syria.

Both Iran and Hezbollah have been fighting alongside the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the devastating eight-year war that has torn the country apart and killed more than 400,000 people.

While Israeli air strikes into Syrian territory happen on a fairly frequent basis, the alleged strikes on Friday come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States.

Last week, experts told Middle East Eye that while a direct military confrontation between the two countries was unlikely, American and Iranian allies in the region could be dragged into a proxy war.

Any such conflict would have "devastating" consequences on the entire region, said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council.

"Thousands of people could die. This could be just hideous," she told MEE. "That would be the worst-case scenario, that it expands and affects all kinds of civilian populations in a number of countries."