Syria says its air defenses shot down Israeli missiles over Palmyra

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 15, 2018, reportedly shows Syrian air defence batteries responding to what the Syrian state media said were Israeli missiles targeting Damascus airport. (Illustrative photo: AFP)

Syrian air defenses downed Israeli missiles over the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs province on Monday, state media reported.

Since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria targeting government troops as well as allied Iranian forces and fighters from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

“Air defenses confronted an Israeli aggression over Palmyra and intercepted several hostile missiles,” SANA said.

The missiles were downed before they could hit their targets, it added.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the targets were “military posts for Iranian militias in the Palmyra desert.”

The monitor did not report any casualties.

Contacted by AFP, an Israeli army spokesperson declined to comment.

A general view shows damage in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. (Reuters)

A general view shows damage in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. (Reuters)

Late last month, Syrian air defenses intercepted an Israeli missile attack also targeting Homs province in the center of the war-torn country.

The Observatory said the target was a military airport where Iranian forces are present.

It is rare for Israel to claim responsibility for such strikes directly.

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Israel says Iran’s presence in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad is a threat and that it will continue its strikes.

The latest attack came only hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Assad in Damascus to discuss regional developments in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57