Syria says it shot down 3 Israeli missiles near Damascus - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Syria says it shot down 3 Israeli missiles near Damascus

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By BASSEM MROUE
Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian air defense units shot down three Israeli missiles that were targeting a military post near the capital, Damascus, only days after the Jewish state hit a military position nearby, Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.

SANA did not say whether some of the missiles hit the target and did not give any word on casualties. It said the attack occurred around midnight on Monday. There was no immediate Israeli comment.

Elsewhere in Syria, an explosion ripped through a van near the central city of Homs, killing at least eight people. The Islamic State group claimed Tuesday's attack in Akarma, a government stronghold south of the city.

IS says it targeted a bus carrying Syrian soldiers, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed were civilians, including six women.

Syrian state TV has aired images of the van's charred body, as well as damaged vehicles nearby. State news agency SANA said eight people were killed and 18 wounded.

Homs, Syria's third largest city, is frequently hit by bombs. The city was known as the "capital of the revolution" following the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad, but is now under government control.

The alleged Israeli missile attack came three days after Syria said Israel fired several surface-to-surface missiles at a military post near Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.

"Our air defense units confronted an Israeli aggression with missiles on one of our military posts in the countryside of Damascus and shot down three of them" SANA said.

The Observatory said the attack was an Israeli airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Jamraya, which is home to a government research center.

Media reports said Saturday's missile attack near the Damascus suburb of Kiswa targeted an Iranian military position. The Observatory said at the time that the area had an Iranian and Hezbollah presence, but said it was not clear if they were targeted.

Though Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in neighboring Syria, it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.

Israel has struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In September, Israeli warplanes hit a military position near the Mediterranean coast, killing two soldiers and causing material damage.

Last month, the Israeli military said it shot down a drone above the Golan Heights that tried to infiltrate its airspace from Syria. It said the drone was operated by the Syrian government and was shot down in the demilitarized zone between the two countries. In September, Israel said it shot down an Iranian-made drone sent by Hezbollah in the same area. Iran has also backed Assad in Syria's nearly seven-year civil war.

Israel is deeply opposed to any permanent Iranian or Hezbollah military presence in Syria.

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