Syrian state media report missile attack near Damascus

BEIRUT — Warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Tuesday and some of the missiles were shot down by air defence units, Syrian state TV said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

While Syrian television didn’t identify the planes, Lebanon’s the state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli warplanes were flying at low altitude over parts of southern Lebanon and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said Israeli airstrikes targeted three positions south of Damascus that are arms depots for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group and Iranian forces..

The reported attack near Damascus is the first since U.S. President Donald Trump announced last week that the U.S. will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria, a move that will leave control of the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs.

Nearly an hour after the attacks began, Damascus residents could still hear the air defence units firing toward targets in the air.

“The aggression is still ongoing,” said a presenter on state TV, which interrupted its programs to air patriotic songs.

Meanwhile, Israel’s military spokesman unit also reported action, though it did not confirm air attacks. It said in a statement that “an aerial defence system was activated against an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria.” No damage or injuries were reported by the Israeli military.

Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes in the past that mainly targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting alongside the government in Syria. Tuesday’s attack is the first since a missile assault on the southern outskirts of Damascus on Nov. 29.

Russia announced it had delivered the S-300 air defence system to Syria in October. That followed the Sept. 17 downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike, a friendly fire incident that stoked regional tensions.

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