Syria intercepts Israel missile strike over Damascus: state media

DAMASCUS: Syrian air defences on Tuesday intercepted an Israeli missile strike over the capital Damascus, state media reported, while military defectors claim the missiles may have targeted Iranian-backed militias.

“Syrian air defences intercepted an Israeli aggression coming from Lebanese airspace,” state media said. Earlier, it said large explosions were heard.

A Syrian military source was quoted on state media as saying the strikes targeted parts of central and southern areas, without elaborating on the locations, adding they left only material damage.

Some state media outlets said the strikes hit Homs province which also adjoins neighbouring Lebanon, where the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah holds sway along the rugged border area.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. If confirmed, this would be the first such missile raid in about a month. Pre-dawn raids struck the Mediterranean port of Latakia close to a Russian air base on May 5.

Western intelligence sources said Israel’s stepped-up strikes on Syria since last year are part of a shadow war approved by the United States. The strikes are also part of an anti-Iran policy that in the last two years has undermined Iran’s extensive military power without starting a major increase in hostilities.

The intelligence sources said that Israel has over the past year expanded its targets across Syria, where thousands of Iranian-backed militias have been involved in regaining much of the territory lost by Syrian President Bashar al Assad to insurgents in the decade-old civil war.

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