Syria's State-run News Removes Report It Intercepted 'Enemy Targets' Over Damascus

SANA removes report saying 'air defenses intercepted enemy aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus international airport'

Jack Khoury
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Missiles in the skies of Damascus, April 2018.
Missiles in the skies of Damascus, April 2018.Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP
Jack Khoury

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) issued a report on Sunday saying Syrian air defences had intercepted enemy targets around Damascus international airport, but later in the day said the attack had not happened.

"Our air defences intercepted enemy aerial targets in the vicinity of Damascus international airport in southern Damascus," SANA said in its initial report.

The agency later removed the report from its website. Later still, it quoted a source at the Damascus international airport as saying "there was no attack on the airport and the air traffic is normal".

FILE PHOTO: An exchange of fire in Syria, from Syria's state media Sana, September 15, 2018.Credit: Sana

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights, a UK-based war monitor, said however there had been firing near the airport. "Several explosion sounds were heard in Damascus suburbs ... as air defences were launched" close to the airport, it said. The Observatory said the nature of the targets was not clear. 

In late November, Syrian state media said the Syrian air force shot down a "hostile target" flying over the town of Kiswah, south of the capital Damascus. Saudi-owned TV station Al-Arabiya reported that Israeli planes attacked Iranian militia positions in the country's south.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria, said Israel carried out a missile attack in the area. The following day, the Israeli army said it found fragments which most likely belonged to a Syrian anti-aircraft missile in an open field in the Golan Heights.

Israeli strikes on Syria "have been cut almost to zero" since a Russian plane was shot down near Latakia in September, a former head of Military Intelligence said.