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Syrian air defences intercept 'missiles' near Damascus: State media

Unspecified number of targets were hit, state-run SANA news agency reports, as Syrian military source says attack came from Israel
Smoke rises near Damascus countryside after reports of an Israeli air strike, 25 December (Reuters)

Syrian air defence batteries opened fire on "missiles" near Damascus, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported, citing a military source.

The source said Syrian defences intercepted most of the "enemy targets" and that only a warehouse at Damascus International airport was hit, according to SANA.

An unspecified number of the targets were hit, the agency reported, while the Syrian military source said the attack came from Israel.

“At 11:15, Israeli fighter jets fired several missiles towards the area of Damascus, and instantly, our air defences confronted the missiles and downed most of them,” the source told SANA.

“The results of the assault were limited to the targeting of a warehouse at Damascus International Airport,” the source added.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard several loud explosions late on Friday, the international news agency said.

In November 2018, Syrian state media reported that the country's air defences shot down "hostile targets" flying over the town of Kisweh, just south of Damascus, and "were able to foil its goals" despite the "intensity of the aggression".

The state media outlets cited a military source as news of the strikes broke, but did not specify what exactly was shot down.

According to the Syria Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, the strikes in November hit two positions in southern Damascus province, including an area of Kisweh that said to host Iranian weapons depots.

Israel has not responded to the allegations it was involved in that incident, but previous Israeli air strikes inside Syrian territory have drawn criticism and recently caused tensions with Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In September, a Russian transport aircraft was accidentally downed by Syrian ground batteries in a friendly-fire incident that Moscow blamed on Israel.

The Russian government said the 17 September incident, in which 15 Russian crew members were killed, took place only because Israel was conducting air strikes against Syrian targets at the time.

Russia subsequently upgraded Syrian air defences with the delivery of the advanced S-300 system, which Damascus said last month would make Israel "think carefully" before carrying out further air raids in Syria.

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