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Syria says responds to 'Israeli aggression': state media

Israel routinely strikes Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 February, 2021

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Syrian state media said the country responded to Israeli strikes on the country on Wednesday.

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Syrian forces responded late on Wednesday to "Israeli aggression" in the south of the country, the state news agency said.

Israel launched missiles from the disputed Golan heights at around 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) and caused material damage, the SANA news agency reported, citing a military source.

"Our anti-air defences responded... and intercepted most of the enemy missiles," the source added.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the Israeli bombing targeted a position belonging to "the regime forces and where pro-Iranian militias are also present" in the southern Quneitra province.

The Jewish state routinely carries out raids in Syria, mostly against targets linked to Iran in what it says is a bid to prevent its arch foe from consolidating a foothold on its northern border.

But the Israeli army rarely acknowledges individual raids and did not comment on the latest reports when contacted by AFP.

Read also: Israel detains teenage Syrian shepherd near Golan Heights fence

However, the army has said it hit about 50 targets in the war-torn country during 2020, without providing details.

According to the Observatory, which relies on sources on the ground in Syria, Israeli strikes on eastern Syria killed 57 government and allied fighters on January 13, in the deadliest raids since the Jewish state began its assaults.

On January 22, four civilians, including two children, were killed by Israeli strikes in the Syrian province of Hama, SANA reported.

The latest attack on Wednesday came hours after Israeli forces on Tuesday detained a teenage Syrian shepherd near the border fence between the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights region of Syria and the rest of the country.

Seventeen-year-old Omran Ibrahim Al-Khedr, from the village of Ghadir Al-Bustan, was captured by Israeli troops while grazing his sheep close to the fence, the Syrian regime news agency, SANA, reported.

The Golan Heights region of southwestern Syria has been illegally occupied by Israel ever since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

SANA’s report was confirmed by the Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, who said in a tweet that a Syrian shepherd who had "infiltrated" the Golan Heights area was captured by Israeli forces.

Adraee tweeted that the shepherd had "deliberately" entered the Israeli-held territories and was now being interrogated by security forces.

Read more: The Golan Heights and a new, imperial world order

The Golan Heights region has been the site of frequent tensions over the course of the Syrian conflict, which broke out in 2011 after the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad brutally suppressed peaceful pro-democracy protests.

The frontier between Syrian-controlled territory and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was contested by the regime and Syrian rebels until 2018, when Assad forces gained full control of the frontier area, with Israel's tacit approval.

However, last month three Syrian regime soldiers were killed by unknown assailants near the Golan Heights frontier and Israel regularly launches deadly air raids into Syria, targeting pro-Iran militias fighting alongside the Assad forces.

In 2019, the administration of former US President Donald Trump recognised the Golan Heights as part of Israel, drawing widespread condemnation from the international community.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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