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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Israel accused of launching missile attack against Syrian airbase outside of Damascus

Several projectiles were reportedly launched by war planes at the Mezzeh military airport

Israeli war planes were believed to have carried out the attack on the Damascus air base.
Israeli war planes were believed to have carried out the attack on the Damascus air base.

Israel has been accused by the Syrian government of launching an aerial attack against a military airport near to the capital, Damascus, early on Saturday morning.

The official news agency, Sana, said several projectiles were launched by Israeli war planes at the Mezzeh military airport which sits to the west of Damascus. The base is the headquarters of the Syrian 1st Division.

Syrian air defences intercepted at least two Israeli missiles but the attack still caused a fire to break out at the airport, resulting in "material damage", Sana said. The agency did not say whether there had been any casualties.

The Syrian regime warned Israel against unspecified repercussions in retaliation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, confirmed that missiles had targeted a military base near Kesweh, south of Damascus.

"An arms depot was destroyed," he said, adding that it was not immediately clear whether the warehouse was operated by the Syrian army, or its allies Iran and Hizbollah.

Damascus residents reported on social media hearing explosions that shook buildings throughout the capital and there was unverified footage posted by a Twitter user called 'Ivan Sidorenko' which purported to show Syrian air defences shooting down one of the apparently Israeli missiles:

The same Twitter user also posted an update at 1am on Saturday saying: “Posted by a #SyrianArmy #SyrianArabArmy Soldier One Hour Ago 'martyrs and injuries and material damage, ambulances are now at the 1st division HQ, god protect everyone’”.

The Mezzeh airport has been used to launch attacks on rebel-held areas near the capital and has come previously under rebel fire. A Syrian army statement said Israel was assisting "terrorist groups" fighting the Syrian government by launching such attacks. There is reported to be a large ammunition depot at the compound.

“The Syrian army command and armed forces warn the Israeli enemy of the repercussions of this blatant attack and stresses it will continue its war on terrorism,” the army statement said.

Some sources on the internet have suggested that the target for the attack was actually an Iranian military base in the Kiswah area, 13km from Damascus.

The Israeli military has declined to comment on the reported attack. Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman recently reiterated his government’s position to not get involved in the Syrian war.

* With reporting by Agence France-Presse