Syria Confirms Israel Strikes Near Damascus With Jets, 'Ground-to-ground Missiles Intercepted'

Assad regime says air defense system intercepted Israeli missiles ■ Syrian opposition-affiliated media reports that four Israeli planes carried out attack on Assad regime arms depot through Lebanese airspace

Amos Harel
Jack Khoury
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Israel attacked an arms depot of a Syrian army military base near Damascus on Tuesday with jets and ground-to-ground missiles, the Syrian army confirmed. The Syrian army added that their air defense systems prevented three separate strikes, saying that the incident proves Israel's support for anti-regime organizations. The Israeli military declined to comment on the matter.

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The Syrian opposition-affiliated Qasioun website reported that four Israeli planes carried out the attack on Al-Qutayfah, an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital, through Lebanese airspace. Eyewitnesses report that loud explosions were heard in the area, which is known to host weapons depots where Scud missiles are stored.

According to the Syrian military, several missiles were first launched at 2:40 A.M., followed by two more missiles at 3:04 A.M. and four at 4:14 A.M. The military said the Syrian air defense shot down one missile and the rest fell on one of the Syrian military sites, causing material damage.

On Sunday, the Israeli security cabinet convened for a long meeting on the situation on the Lebanese and Syrian borders. Senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, expressed concerns over developments on the northern front amid Iran's growing influence in the region. Israel is also concerned about the replenishment of the Assad regimes missile arsenal, which was almost entirely used up fighting the rebels, and the establishment of Iranian weapons plants in Syria and Lebanon.

On December 2, Syrian state television reported that the Israeli Air Force struck a military base in city of Al-Kiswa, located some 13 kilometers south of Damascus. According to Assad-affiliated media reports, Israel targeted Iranian military bases in the area. Israeli officials declined to comment on the matter.

During that attack, Syria's air-defense system fired missiles at Israeli aircraft, which reportedly launched the attack from Lebanese airspace.

Three days later, Israel reportedly struck another Assad regime military target near Damascus, foreign media reported. According to pro-Assad media reports, Syrian forces allegedly fired anti-aircraft missiles toward Israeli jets. One such website wrote that the Israeli strikes targeted the Jamraya Research and Information Center, a security facility in a Damascus suburb.

The regime of President Bashar Assad has continued to regain control over areas of Syria near the Israeli border, despite counterattacks by Sunni rebels. This month an agreement was reached for the surrender and retreat of rebels in the enclave surrounding the village of Beit Jinn, some 11 kilometers east of the Golan Heights border.