Syria says it downed Israeli missiles targeting airbase


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Syrian government said it downed several Israeli missiles that were targeting an airbase in western Syria.

The official Syrian news agency, SANA, reported that Syria’s air defense system on Sunday evening downed the strikes aimed at the Homs base. SANA also reported that the military hit one of the attacking planes, which forced all of the planes to leave Syrian airspace.

Israel, as is its usual practice, neither confirmed nor denied the airstrikes in response to queries from the international and local media.

The Homs airbase has been reported to be the site for deployment of Iranian drones like the one Israel shot down in February. The drone was loaded with explosives and believed to be on an attack mission.

Israel was accused of an attack on the same base in early April. Though Israel would neither confirm nor deny the attack, an unnamed senior Israeli military official confirmed to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman that Israel carried out the attack. Russia, Iran and Syria were quick to accuse Israel of the attack as well.

Israel reportedly has carried out dozens of airstrikes on Syria’s army and its allies since 2011.

Sunday’s attack comes amid a major offensive by President Bashar Assad’s army to recapture areas in the Daraa area that have been under the control of Sunni rebels as part of the country’s seven-year civil war. More than 120,000 people are believed to have fled their homes for the borders with Jordan and Israel during the offensive.

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