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Israel Confirms Air Strikes Against Iranian Forces In Syria


Israeli Army tanks gather in the Golan Heights on January 20 after Israeli air defenses intercepted a rocket fired from Syria.

The Israeli military confirmed early on January 21 that it attacked Iranian military targets in Syria, hours after Israeli forces carried out rare daylight air strikes near Damascus International Airport.

The statement was issued shortly after Israeli missile defenses intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights in the wake of the Israeli air strikes.

"We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory," the Israeli military statement said. "We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory."

The statement did not provide further details about the air strikes.

But a Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported missile strikes near the Damascus airport and in areas around the capital -- saying the missiles hit apparent weapons depots of Iranian forces and Lebanon’s Shi’ite militant group Hizballah.

The group said there were 11 casualties in the incident.

Israel has largely refrained from publicly confirming its military operations in neighboring Syria in order to avoid larger involvement in the eight-year war.

The Syrian military said Israel carried out intensive air strikes with successive waves of guided missiles early on January 20.

It said Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets, and Syrian state media said the air defenses repelled an Israeli air strike near the international airport south of Damascus.

Syrian state television said Israel fired six missiles in an area near Damascus International Airport, of which five were shot down and one diverted to nearby empty farmland.

The Russian state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia's National Defense Management Center on January 21 as reporting that more than 30 Israeli cruise missiles and guided bombs had been shot down.

Moscow also said four Syrian soldiers were killed in the incident and six injured.

"On January 21, 2019, between 2:11 a.m. and 2:56 a.m. the Israeli Air Defense carried out three air strikes on Syria's territory from the western, southwestern, and southern directions," the Russian military statement said.

Russia and Iran have given Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crucial military and diplomatic support throughout the war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

Israel has pledged to stop Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, carrying out hundreds of air strikes there against Iranian targets and those of Lebanon’s Hizballah.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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