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Israel Says Intercepts Rockets Fired from Syria

Israel Says Intercepts Rockets Fired from Syria

Tuesday, 19 November, 2019 - 05:45
An 'Arrow 3' ballistic missile interceptor is seen during a 2015 test launch near Ashdod. (Reuters)

The Israeli military said it intercepted four incoming rockets from Syria on Tuesday and explosions were heard shortly after that in Damascus, a week after another Israeli strike targeted a top Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital.

Israeli air defense systems captured the projectiles, the military said, and no harm was caused to Israeli communities in the Golan Heights after warning sirens awoke residents there early in the morning.

There was no immediate official comment from Syria but the SANA state news agency reported explosions were heard near Damascus International Airport, indicating a potential Israeli retaliatory strike.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets were fired from positions around the capital held by groups loyal to the Damascus regime.

It did not elaborate on which group had launched the rockets or whether there had been any casualties in the retaliatory strikes.

"The Israeli bombardment targeted positions held by pro-regime groups who launched the missiles against Israel," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Israeli military would not comment on the explosions in Syria, but Defense Minister Naftali Bennett was convening the top military brass in Tel Aviv to discuss the latest developments.

Speaking on Israel Army Radio, Foreign Minister Israel Katz was equally vague, saying only that “Israel will act in the way it sees fit.”

The rare rocket fire comes a week after an Israeli airstrike against a top Palestinian militant based in Syria. Akram al-Ajouri, a member of the leadership of the Islamic Jihad group who is living in exile, survived the attack but his son and granddaughter were killed.

Israel frequently strikes Iranian interests in Syria. But last week’s airstrike appeared to be a rare assassination attempt of a Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital. It came the same day as another Israeli airstrike killed a senior Jihad commander in Gaza, settling off the fiercest round of fighting there in years.

It all comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iranian proxies along its borders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel's northern neighbor, and supports Hezbollah in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.

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