Israeli army says it hit Iranian targets in Syria

Unusual Israeli confirmation of military action comes as Syria says most missiles were shot down by its air defences

Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles targeting an area in Damascus
Syrian air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles targeting an area in Damascus

The Israeli military says it carried out overnight attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, while Syrian state media reported that the country's air defences have shot down "hostile targets".

"We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory," Israel's military said in a statement in the early hours of Monday.

The Quds Force is in charge of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' overseas operations. Iran is a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his forces in the country's long-running war.

Reporters on the ground in southern Israel said the Israeli military's confirmation that it was striking targets inside Syria as the operation was ongoing was "highly unusual".

News agency reports quoted witnesses in the Syrian capital, Damascus, as saying that loud explosions rang out in the night sky.

Video posted to social media purports to show missiles intercepted near the city.  

Syrian state news agency SANA said the country's military air defences thwarted "hostile targets" on Sunday night and shot down several of them, without elaborating.

The attacks followed cross-border attacks on Sunday in which Syria said it repelled an Israeli air raid.

Israel said it intercepted a rocket fired at the occupied Golan Heights.

The military statement did not specify where the rocket had been launched from. The northern Golan is also close to Lebanese territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had acknowledged an Israeli attack last week on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria, where Tehran provides Damascus with vital support.

He told his cabinet Israel had carried out "hundreds" of attacks over the past years of Syria's war to curtail Iran and its ally Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Usually silent about its attacks on Iranian targets near its frontier, Israel has lifted the veil this month, a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tensions with Russia, which is also backing Assad.

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