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Friday, 20 July 2018

Syria says Israeli strikes target air base

AFP , Monday 9 Jul 2018
Syrian
Israeli soldiers look at the Syrian side of the Israel-Syria border on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel July 7, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
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Syria on Sunday accused Israel of targeting an air base in the central Homs province, saying its defences hit a jet involved in the attack.

"Our air defences are responding to an Israeli aggression and intercepting a number of missiles targeting the airport, hitting one of the attacking planes and forcing the rest to leave the airspace," the official SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP that a missile bombardment targeted "Iranian fighters" at the T-4 base.

The facility has previously been targeted by strikes Damascus blamed on Israel.

In addition to the Syrian army, Iranian fighters and Lebanese Hezbollah troops are also stationed at the air base, according to the Observatory.

On April 9, missiles targeted the T-4 air base in the central province of Homs, killing up to 14 fighters, including seven Iranians.

Moscow, Tehran and Damascus accused Israel of carrying out those raids.

The air base was also hit on February 10, after Israel accused Iranian forces at the T-4 base of sending a drone into Israeli territory.

After bombing Iranian units in Syria in retaliation, an Israeli F-16 was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in an escalation in the conflict.

Israel then carried out what it called "large-scale" raids on Syrian air defence systems and Iranian targets, which reportedly included T-4.

Since the start of Syria's civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah backing it inside the country.

Israel usually does not claim the strikes, but has long said it will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.

Israel seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.

The two countries are technically still at war.

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