Syria air defences intercept Israeli projectiles: state media

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DAMASCUS, May 18, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Syrian air defence batteries on Friday
intercepted projectiles coming from Israel and downed a number of them, the
official news agency SANA reported.

“Our air defence systems intercepted luminous objects coming from the
occupied territories (Israel) and downed several of them,” SANA said quoting
a military source.

A later report described the projectiles as “hostile targets” which were
fired “towards the province of Quneitra” near the Golan Heights, parts of
which are annexed by Israel.

Earlier SANA reported a “loud explosion” around the capital Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said
“three explosions” shook southwest Damascus on Friday.

“They were Israeli strikes that targeted the Kiswah region where weapons
warehouses belonging to Iran and (its Lebanese proxy) Hezbollah are located,”
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

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

The latest report comes amid soaring tensions in the region between
Israel’s arch-foe Iran and the United States.

The stand-off had been simmering since the United States last year withdrew
from the 2015 nuclear treaty which Iran reached with major world powers.

In recent days the US accused Iran of alleged threats and last week
deployed an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.

In April, Syria said an Israeli air strike targeted a town in central Hama
province north of Damascus, wounding three combatants and destroying
buildings.

State media at the time said Syrian air defences intercepted “some of the
Israeli missiles”.

In March, Syria accused Israel of having attacked targets just north of
second city Aleppo, adding that it air defences had shot down several
missiles, after a string of Israeli raids in January.

On January 12, 2019, Syrian air defences shot down Israeli missiles
targeting a transport ministry warehouse at the Damascus international
airport, SANA reported at the time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that strike and said
Israel was “more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria.”

Just over a week later Israel announced its Iron Dome aerial defence system
had intercepted a rocket fired from Syria by the Iranian Revolutionary
Guards’ Quds Force.

In response, Israeli fighter jets carried out further strikes inside Syria,
targeting Iranian facilities and Syrian aerial defence batteries.

The Observatory said that at least 21 people, mostly Iranians, were killed
in the January raids.

Israel insists that it has the right to continue to target positions in
Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

Netanyahu has vowed not to let Iran — which backs Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad — entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.

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