Syrian Air Defenses Intercepted Projectiles Fired From Israel, State Media Reports

The is the second time in two days that Syria says it thwarted an Israeli attack, but it may be that Syrian defense systems mistakenly interpreted aerial movements as Israeli strikes

File photo: Missiles flying into the sky near international airport, in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019.
SANA via AP

Syrian state media reported Saturday evening that air defenses have thwarted projectiles that were fired from Israel, the second consecutive such report on alleged Israeli strikes in two days.

The two reports seem questionable, and it may be that the Syrian defense systems mistakenly interpreted aerial movements as Israeli strikes. The timing also appears unlikely as Israel is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest tonight, and its aerial defense systems are on high alert to fend off any potential attacks.

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The Syrian Arab News Agency, Syria's state news agency, quoted a Syrian military source who said that the air defense system was activated against missiles fired at western Damascus from the direction of  Quneitra, in the Golan Heights, within Israeli territory. A number of missiles were intercepted, the Friday report said.

The state television channel showed footage of the night sky with a point of light firing up into it and the sound of shooting. It did not immediately report casualties or material damage.

Other reports associated with the opposition say that the strikes were carried out from Lebanese airspace.  

The strikes follow a statement given to the Guardian Thursday night, in which a diplomatic source said that a convoy of Iranian missiles was transferred into Syria via Iraq's Anbar province last week. The source said that Israeli and U.S. intelligence were unaware of the transfer.

In April, Syrian state news reported that Israel targeted a military position near the province of Hama in Syria which was intercepted and some of its rockets downed by Syrian air defenses. This came just one month after seven members of Iran-backed armed forces were killed in alleged Israeli airstrikes on ammunition depots near Aleppo International Airport. 

Iran's growing influence in Syria, where it has struck economic and trade deals, has raised the prospect of a military confrontation with its arch-enemy Israel.

Israel, which considers Iran its biggest threat, has according to media reports repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied militia, including Lebanon's Hezbollah. Israel rarely confirms or denies the reports, although it confirmed attacking Iranian targets in Syria in January and February.