Israel launches Christmas Day airstrikes in Syria, with Damascus weapons depot hit
- Israeli planes fired at multiple targets near Damascus, Syrian state media says
- Targets used by Iranian and Hezbollah forces operating in Syria, observers say
- Senior Hezbollah figures boarding plane to Iran were also wounded, sources say
- Comes after Donald Trump announced US forces will withdraw from the country
PUBLISHED: 15:50 EST, 25 December 2018 | UPDATED: 05:58 EST, 26 December 2018
Israel has carried out Christmas Day airstrikes against targets around the Syrian capital Damascus, according to the country’s state-run media.
Israeli warplanes flying above Lebanon reportedly launched 22 missiles at multiple targets used by Iran and Hezbollah, prompting Syrian air defences to fire back.
Senior Hezbollah figures boarding a plane bound for Iran were wounded during the attack, according to security sources who spoke to Newsweek.Video playing bottom right…Click here to expand to full page
Syrian air defences around Damascus began firing on Christmas Day after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes against arms dumps around the city, state media reported
Syria said that most incoming missiles were destroyed, but that one of the depots was hit, wounding three soldiers
The airstrike was conducted just minutes after they had boarded the aircraft.
Three soldiers were also wounded during the attack after explosives hit an arms dump, according to Syrian media.
Pro-Iranian military outposts, air defence facilities and military headquarters were also damaged in the strikes, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Syrian media said that most of the incoming missiles were intercepted by its defences, which were filmed firing overnight.
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The attacks come after President Donald Trump said that America will withdraw all 2,000 troops from the country.
The news stoked fears in Israel that Iran and Hezbollah will exploit the power vaccum to further entrench themselves in Syria, which Israel views as an existential threat.
One of the incoming missiles hit an arms dump injuring three soldiers, according to Syria. Israel has not acknowledged any strikes took place.
Meanwhile Turkey began massing tanks along its border with Syria as countries moved to fill the power vaccum that will be left after America withdraws its troops.Footage shows missiles flying overhead towards DamascusLoaded: 0%Progress: 0%00:00PreviousPlaySkipMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time0:00Fullscreen
The sky glows red over Damascus after missiles, believed to have been fired by Israeli warplanes, struck an arms dump
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel would ‘continue to act against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria, and to the extent necessary, we will even expand our actions there.’
Nearly an hour after the attacks began, Damascus residents could still hear the air defense units firing toward targets in the air.
‘The aggression is still ongoing,’ said a presenter on state TV, which interrupted its programs to air patriotic songs.
Later the TV quoted an unnamed military official as saying that Syrian air defenses ‘shot down most of the missiles before reaching their targets and the aggression damaged an arms depot and wounded three soldiers.’
It added that the Israeli warplanes fired the missiles from Lebanese airspace.
Israel’s military spokesman’s unit did not confirm the raids, but said in a statement that ‘an aerial defense system was activated against an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria.’
No damage or injuries were reported by the Israeli military. ADVERTISEMENTRead more:
- Hezbollah Leaders Targeted, Reportedly Hit in Israeli Airstrike, U.S. Official Says
- Senior Hezbollah leaders injured in Israeli airstrike in Syria’s Damascus – Israel News – Jerusalem Post
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Hezbollah leaders injured as Israel launches Christmas Day airstrikes in Syria
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“We are very concerned by the attacks and how they were made. This is a gross violation of the sovereignty of Syria,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday.
Syrian state media said the country’s air defences intercepted Israeli missiles near Damascus, while Israel said it was protecting itself from anti-aircraft fire.
“An [Israeli military] aerial defence system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the Israeli army’s official Twitter account later said.ADVERTISING
iMoscow also said the Israeli attacks endangered two passenger planes.
“The provocative actions of the Israeli air force … directly threatened two airliners,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
He said the attack from over the Lebanese territory came as “two airliners, not from Russia, were preparing to land at the airports of Beirut and Damascus”.
He said restrictions were imposed on the use of Syrian government forces’ air defence systems “to prevent a tragedy”. One of the planes was redirected to a Russian airbase within Syria.
The Russian defence ministry said three Syrian soldiers were injured in an attack that saw Israeli warplanes drop 16 bombs.
Of these, 14 were destroyed by the Syrian defence systems, according to the ministry.
Upgraded anti-missile systems
In September, a Russian Il-20 military plane was struck in a similar attack, killing 15 servicemen on board.
That day, several Israeli F-16s entered the Syrian airspace hoping to bomb its military targets in the northwestern Latakia province.
Russian officials said that when Syria’s S-200 air-defence system responded to the breach, an Israeli F-16 hid behind the Russian plane which was hit by a Syrian missile.
Shortly afterwards, Moscow, blaming Israel for the incident, announced its decision to provide Syria with the more advanced S-300 defence system.
Israel has in the past carried out dozens of air raids in Syria against what it says are Iranian targets, many of them south of Damascus.
|Russia to send S-300 missile defence systems to Syria (3:07)|