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Syrian soldier killed in 'Israeli air strikes' over Damascus 

Counter-strikes triggers sirens in parts of Israel and the occupied West Bank 
Damaged cars and buildings near Qudsayya city, northwest of Damascus, following Israeli air strikes on 9 February 2021 (Ruptly)

One Syrian soldier was killed and five others wounded early on Wednesday after Israeli missiles targeted areas near the capital Damascus, official news agency Sana reported. 

Citing a military source, state TV said the Israeli air strikes were fired at 12:56am local time from the direction of the southeast of Lebanon's capital Beirut. 

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More surface-to-surface missile strikes from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan were fired at 1:10 am, it added, saying the country's air defences had been activated against the attack.  

An Israeli military spokesperson declined to comment on the Syrian report of the initial Israeli attack near Damascus. 

However, the Israeli military said it carried out a counter-strike in Syria in response to the launching of the anti-aircraft missile. It said the missile triggered sirens in parts of Israel and the occupied West Bank and exploded in mid-air.

"In response to the anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria earlier tonight, we just struck surface-to-air missile targets in Syria, including radar and anti-aircraft batteries," the Israeli military said.

The Israeli attack caused material damages to Syrian civilian property in Qudsaya city, northwest of Damascus, according to Sana. 

Repeated attacks 

Since the war broke out in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes on Syrian territory, targeting government positions as well as Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters.

Israel rarely comments on its air strikes in Syria but has said repeatedly it will not allow its regional rival Iran to extend its footprint in Syria.

In December, an Israeli air strike hit a shipment of Iranian weapons in the Syrian port of Latakia, in the first such attack on the key facility, according to a UK-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

The Israeli raid "directly targeted an Iranian weapons shipment in the container yard," the Observatory said.

A source familiar with port operations said it was the first time Israel had attacked the facility on Syria's Mediterranean coast.

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