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Syria state media says Israeli planes attack targets near Damascus

An arms depot was hit and three soldiers were injured due to the attack, which was launched from Lebanon's airspace, state media said
Smoke rises near Damascus countryside after reports of an Israeli air strike, 25 December (Reuters)

Syrian air defences on Tuesday confronted Israeli missiles above Damascus and downed most of them before reaching their targets, state TV quoted a military source as saying.

"Our air defences confronted hostile missiles launched by Israeli war planes from above the Lebanese territories and downed most of them before reaching their targets," the military source said.

An arms depot was hit and three soldiers were injured due to the attack, official news agency SANA reported, citing a military source.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor confirmed that the missiles were from an Israeli air strike.

"It's an Israeli raid," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said.

"Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted... arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces," Abdel Rahman said.

Lebanese state-run National News Agency said Israeli war planes performed mock raids above southern Lebanon.

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"The aggression originated from above the Lebanese territories and a number of hostile targets were downed," Syrian TV said.

Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, but it rarely confirms or comments on such attacks.

"An IDF aerial defense system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria," the official Israeli army Twitter account said on Tuesday.

Tuesday's strikes come as the United States has announced that it intends to withdraw its forces from Syria. While some 2,000 US troops are in Syria with the stated goal of fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, Washington has warned against growing Iranian influence in the war-torn country.

At the end of November, Syria said its air defences had targeted and downed a number of "hostile targets" over the Kisweh area south of Damascus.