January 20, 2019 / 11:36 AM / a year ago

Syria says repels Israeli air attack, Israel says downs Golan rocket

BEIRUT/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Syrian military air defenses thwarted an Israeli attack on Sunday, shooting down seven missiles targeting an airport in southeastern Damascus, Russia’s National Defense Control Center was cited by RIA news agency as saying.

FILE PHOTO: An Israeli soldier rides an armoured vehicle during an army drill after the visit of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File photo

The attack, launched by four Israeli F-16 jets, did not damage the airport and there were no casualties, the control center was cited as saying.

Syrian state media also reported the attack.

“Our air defense systems thwarted ... an Israeli air aggression ... and prevented it from achieving any of its goals,” a military source told state news agency SANA. It gave no further details.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Israeli military later said its Iron Dome interceptor system shot down a rocket fired at the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights on the Syria frontier.

The military’s statement did not immediately specify where the rocket was launched from. The northern Golan is also close to Lebanese territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged an Israeli attack last week on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria, where Tehran provides Damascus with vital support.

He told his cabinet Israel had carried out “hundreds” of attacks over the past years of Syria’s war to curtail Iran and its ally Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Usually silent about its attacks on Iranian targets near its frontier, Israel has lifted the veil this month, a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tensions with Syria’s big-power backer Russia.

Reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut, Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Polina Ivanova in Moscow; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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