Iran wants to boost the Syrian military by upgrading the country's air-defense with medium and long-range systems to confront threats, an Iranian official in the Defense Ministry said Monday according to the Fars news agency.
Deputy Defense Minister for International Affairs Brigadier General Hamzeh Ghalandari told the news agency that although Syria possesses air-defense capabilities, the country is witnessing a wide range of threats.
“We have declared openly and publicly that we, along with our Syrian brothers, seek to strengthen the Syrian air defense in various ways,” Ghalandari said.
He affirmed that Iran will support Syria with equipment and tactical upgrades.
“In light of the air threats against Syria, efforts are underway to strengthen its air defense capabilities by using medium and long ranges systems,” he noted, adding that the type of systems will be announced in due course.
On Monday, Syrian news outlets said Syrian army air defenses confronted an Israeli missile.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said government air defense sites near Damascus where fighters from the Iran-backed Hezbollah group are present were targeted.
Meanwhile, the official Syrian news agency, SANA, said Syrian air defenses have shot down incoming Israeli missiles.
It quoted a military source as saying that the attack took place at about 23:45 pm local time on Sunday.
The source added that the missile strike targeted some areas in the vicinity of Damascus.
“Our air defenses intercepted the [Israeli] aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them,” the source said, adding that the attack only led to material damages.
SOHR reported that one site north of the capital lying around 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Lebanese border was also a target. Five Hezbollah fighters were reportedly wounded.
Another site between the airport and the Sayyida Zeinab area southeast of the capital where Iran-backed forces are present was also targeted, the Britain-based war-monitor, which has a vast network of sources on the ground in Syria.
Since the start of the war in Syria in 2011, Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes against regime positions as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, allies of Damascus and arch-foes of Israel.
Israel rarely comments on the strikes on a case-by-case basis, but says it seeks to prevent Iran establishing a foothold on its doorstep.