Israel in first Syria strikes since air defence upgrade

Another Syrian news agency claimed that the sites belonged to Iranian militias, but this report is yet to be confirmed.

Al Kisweh has been hit by Israeli airstrikes at least twice before, with a big raid carried out last May.

Two missiles hit "weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah [militant group] as well as Iranian forces" in Kisweh.

"Our air defenses fired on hostile targets over the Kisweh area and downed them", SANA said, citing a military source.

Iran is a key ally of Syria's Bashar Assad and supports a number of militias that have fought alongside the Syrian army and its allies.

Israeli jets on Thursday bombed several areas near the Syrian capital Damascus as well as in the country's south, in its first reported strikes in the country since September.

Focusing its attention on Friday's US-led coalition attack on the village of al-Safa, which led to the deaths of over 30 civilians, as well as the Israeli air forces' alleged Thursday strikes, the letter argued that the strikes "clearly reflect the US's disregard for humanitarian values and its confempt for worldwide law".

Abdel Rahman said Thursday was the first time Syria's air defences had been called into action since the September downing and the delivery of advanced new Russian missiles.

"We did not shoot down an Israeli plane", the official said, contradicting reports from Thursday night quoting a Syrian defense official that air defense systems had shot at and downed "hostile targets".

However, a surface-to-air missile was sacked at an open area in the Golan Heights and IDF forces are searching the area for additional hits.

In May, Israel struck and Iranian military base in the area killing some 23 fighters, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Operation of the system could thus make Israeli jets far more vulnerable in any future missions in Syria.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement on Twitter: "In the course of Syrian ground-to-air missile fire, (Israel's) air defenses sighted a single trajectory toward an open area of the Golan Heights".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told Moscow his government would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border.

  • Rogelio Becker