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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Syria responds to 'new Israeli aggression' near Damascus

The Israelis reportedly targeted a research centre in the town of Jemraya, north of the capital

Israeli forces are seen near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria, on November 4, 2017. Ammar Awad / Reuters
Israeli forces are seen near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria, on November 4, 2017. Ammar Awad / Reuters

Syrian air defences responded to “new Israeli aggression” in the countryside around Damascus early on Wednesday, reported Syrian state media without giving further details.

According to other media reports, the Israelis targeted a research centre in the town of Jemraya, north of the capital.

Israel rarely takes public credit for such strikes but is believed to have carried out at least 20 attacks in Syria since the 2013.

Israel has in the past admitted to attacking arms shipments allegedly bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, which is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s forces. It has also targeted Syrian military installations, some of which were believed to be arms depots belonging to Hezbollah.

Israel’s repeated strikes have called into question the efficacy of advanced Russian S300 and S400 air defence systems that were first shipped to Syria in 2013. It is also believed to have carried out a pair of strikes to destroy some of those systems in 2014.

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Israeli strikes inside Syria predate the civil war as far back as the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel preemptively struck airfields in the country. In the 1980s, targets were often Palestinian militants.

More recently, in 2007, Israeli planes are believed to have destroyed a nuclear reactor near the city of Deir Ezzor. Israeli planes are also believed to have struck a military research facility near Damascus in 2013.