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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Israel carries out airstrikes in Syria reportedly targeting Iranian militias

It is the first publicised Israeli attack in Syria since the downing of a Russian jet last September

In this November 25, 2013 photo, technicians inspect an Israeli air force F-16 jet at the Ovda airbase near Eilat, southern Israel. AP
In this November 25, 2013 photo, technicians inspect an Israeli air force F-16 jet at the Ovda airbase near Eilat, southern Israel. AP

Israel has reportedly carried out airstrikes in Southern Syria targeting Iranian militias, in its first publicised strike since September.

The attack was first reported by Dubai-based Arabic channel Al-Hadath around 10pm Damascus time. The strikes targeted the region of Al Kisweh, south of the Syrian capital, hitting Iranian militias’ targets, according to Al-Hadath's sources.

Syrian state media said Syrian defences has foiled the attack and continued to shoot down “enemy targets.”

Israel has denied reports, however, that one of its planes was hit by Syrian defences:

The Israeli army said a missile was fired at the Golan Heights, but that it remains unclear whether the projectile fell in Israel.

"In the course of Syrian ground-to-air missile fire, (Israel's) air defences sighted a single trajectory toward an open area of the Golan Heights," it said in a statement carried by Haaretz.

"At this stage it remains unclear whether there was indeed an impact in our territory. Our forces are scouring the area."

Al Kisweh has been hit by Israeli airstrikes at least twice before, with a big raid carried out last May.

In 2017, the BBC, quoting a Western intelligence source, reported the Iranian military had a compound outside Al Kisweh.

The attack followed US warnings on Thursday of increased Iranian presence in Syria. Briefing Congress at the time of the attack, US Special Representative James Jeffrey told the House Foreign Affairs committee that Washington wants to see Iranian proxies leave Syria. The US is “thinking specifically of [the Lebanese group] Hezbollah” he said.

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