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Reports Clarify Mystery Attack Over Syria

Seems Israeli warplanes are behind it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2018 3:46 PM CST
A missile lights up the sky over Damascus in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

(Newser) – Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Tuesday, hitting an arms depot and wounding three soldiers, Syrian state media reported, saying that most of the missiles were shot down by air defense units. The report, quoting an unnamed military official, identified the warplanes as Israeli. Lebanon's state-run National News Agency earlier reported that Israeli warplanes were flying at low altitude over parts of southern Lebanon, the AP reports. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, says Israeli airstrikes targeted three positions south of Damascus that are arms depots for Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and Iranian forces.

The reported attack near Damascus is the first since President Trump announced last week that the US will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria, a move that will leave control of the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs. Following Trump's announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel would "continue to act against Iran's attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria, and to the extent necessary, we will even expand our actions there." Later an unnamed military official was quoted as saying that Syrian air defenses "shot down most of the missiles before reaching their targets." It added that the Israeli warplanes fired the missiles from Lebanese airspace. Israel's military spokesman's unit did not confirm the raids, but said in a statement that "an aerial defense system was activated against an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria." (Turkey has massed troops along the Syrian border.)

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