Israeli fighter attack near the Syrian capital injures 3 soldiers: report
This frame grab from a video provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows how rockets flying into the sky near Damascus, Syria, fly on Tuesday, December 25, 2018. Israeli fighter jets over Lebanon and firing rockets at areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus hit late Tuesday, a weapons warehouse and wounded three soldiers, Syrian state media reported that most missiles were shot down by air defense units. (SANA over AP)
BEIRUT – Israeli fighters flew over Lebanon on late Tuesday near the Syrian capital Damascus on rockets. They struck a weapons depot and wounded three soldiers, Syrian state media reported that most rockets had been shot down air defense units.
The TV identified the fighter jets as Israeli. The state-run national news agency Lebanon previously reported that Israeli fighter planes fly at low altitude over parts of southern Lebanon.
The UK-based Syrian Human Rights Observatory, a war monitor, said Israeli air strikes had attacked three locations south of Damascus. These are weapons depots for the Lebanese Hezbollah group and the Iranian armed forces.
The reported attack near Damascus is the first since US President Donald Trump announced last week that the US will withdraw all of its 2,000 armed forces in Syria for control of Syria's oil-rich eastern part for election.
Following Trump's announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will "continue to oppose Iran's attempts to invade Syria militarily and, to the extent necessary, we will even expand our actions there."  This frame grab from a video provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows how rockets are flying the sky near Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, December 25, 2018. Israeli fighters flying over Lebanon fired rockets on Tuesday in areas near the Syrian capital Damascus, hit a weapons depot and injured three soldiers, reported Syrian state media The rockets were shot down by air defense units. (SANA via AP) “/>
This frame grab from a video provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows how missiles fly into the sky near Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday, December 25, 2018. Israeli fighter jets flew over Lebanon towards the areas Near the Syrian capital Damascus hit late Tuesday, a weapons warehouse and wounded three soldiers, Syrian state media reported that most missiles were shot down by air defense units. (SANA over AP)
Almost an hour after the attacks began, the residents of Damascus could still hear the air defense units firing at air targets.
"The aggression is still going on," said a state television presenter who interrupted his programs on air-patriotic songs.
Later, television cited an unnamed military officer as saying that Syrian air defense systems had "shot down most rockets before they reached their targets, and the aggression damaged a weapons depot and wounded three soldiers." She added that the Israeli fighters fired the rockets from Lebanese airspace.
Israel's military spokesman did not confirm the raids, but said in a statement that "an air defense system was activated against an anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria." The Israeli military reported neither damage nor injuries.
It is widely believed that Israel has historically been behind a series of air strikes fought primarily by Iran and Hezbollah forces alongside the Syrian government. The attack on Tuesday is the first since a rocket attack on the southern outskirts of Damascus on 29 November.
Russia has announced that it has delivered the S-300 air defense system to Syria in October. This was followed by the disengagement of a Russian reconnaissance plane on 17 September by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli air strike, a friendly fire incident that triggered regional tensions.