Syrian Air Defenses Repel Attack South of Damascus

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) confirmed Tuesday that air defense systems were engaging several “hostile targets” in southern Syria, near the capital of Damascus, Sputnik reports.

“At exactly 22:35 PM [local time] today, Israel carried out airstrikes from the direction of the occupied Golan Heights against some targets in the vicinity of Damascus”, SANA said.

Social media footage allegedly shows an aerial explosion that occurred south of the Syrian capital Tuesday evening.

SANA reported that at least four explosions could be heard from central Damascus. It also tweeted footage of the attack. No fatalities nor any casualties have been reported as of now. As the reports emerged, the Israeli army refused to comment on the airstrikes.

Early reports have linked the rockets to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), as multiple videos of the airstrike were shared on Twitter. They also alleged the attack was launched from the Golan Heights, currently under the control of the Israeli army.

“We do not comment on foreign media reports,” the IDF told Sputnik.

The area in which the explosions occurred is said to be the same site allegedly struck by the IDF on the night of February 28. According to SANA, the airstrike was launched from the Golan Heights, which has been mostly under Israel’s control since the country seized the area from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.

It’s unlikely Israeli officials will confirm or deny the incident, as the country’s military has a policy against speaking on Syria-related operations. In December, however, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi did confirm that the Israeli army had launched numerous attacks in Syria targeting what he “the Iranian entrenchment” in the Arab Republic.

While an Israeli military spokeswoman declined to confirm the strikes, telling Reuters “we don’t comment on foreign reports,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously acknowledged “hundreds” of Israeli strikes against “Iranian targets” in Syria over the course of the country’s years long war against jihadist terrorist groups.

The last Israeli strike reported in Syria came in late February, also targeting military sites near Damascus, in that case alleged to be operated by Iran. Tel Aviv has repeatedly threatened retaliation over Iran’s presence in the country, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz stating last month that the IDF was taking action against Tehran there on an “almost weekly” basis.

Tuesday’s attack marks the eighth so far in 2021, according to the Jerusalem Post, with Israeli bombings reported in eastern, southern and western Syria.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out raids in Syria, mostly targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government troops. Israel rarely confirms strikes in Syria, but the Jewish state’s army has said it hit about 50 targets in the war-torn country last year, without providing details.

In late February, Israeli air strikes targeted the area of Sayyida Zeinab south of Damascus, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah are present, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without reporting any casualties.