Syria says it repels Israeli strike, anti-aircraft missile fragments hit Israel

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Fadel El Jaber, stands on rubble of the building his son lived with his family, that collapsed from last month's deadly earthquake in the town of Salqin, Syria March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Syria said it repelled a missile salvo on Sunday from Israel, where police reported that remnants of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile struck a remote town without causing injuries.

Israel has in recent months intensified strikes on Syrian airports and air bases to disrupt Iran’s increasing use of aerial supply lines to deliver arms to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Syrian state media said air defences intercepted Israeli missiles across central parts of the country, downing most of them. A Syrian army statement said missiles that flew over parts of Lebanon’s capital Beirut hit locations in the vicinity of the city of Homs, resulting only in material damage.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

An Israeli military spokesperson said warplanes struck targets including a Syrian air defence battery from which an anti-aircraft missile was launched towards Israel.

After a mid-air explosion heard across Israel, remnants of the Syrian missile landed in Rahat, a town some 180 km (110 miles) south of the armistice line between the countries, Israeli police said. There was no word of any casualties.

Local media showed what appeared to be the blackened front end of a large missile, standing upright in an open area among residential buildings, and tail-fins in a field.

The Israeli military said its warplanes were unscathed.

The Israeli strikes are part of an escalation of what has been a low-intensity conflict continuing for years with a goal of slowing Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, Israeli military experts say.

Tehran’s influence has grown in Syria since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that started in 2011.

Fighters allied to Iran, including Hezbollah, now hold sway in areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and in several suburbs around the capital.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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