Israeli jets strike Damascus airport

Material damage of benefit to al Qaeda, says Syrian military

Israeli jets have bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas near the border with Lebanon, Syrian state television said yesterday.

An Israeli army spokesman said he would not comment on the “foreign reports”.

Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the three-year conflict, mostly destroying weaponry such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for their long-time foe Hezbollah in neighbouring Lebanon.

“The Israeli enemy committed aggression against Syria by targeting two safe areas in Damascus province, in all of Dimas and near the Damascus International Airport,” state television said, adding that there were no casualties.

Residents in Damascus said they heard loud explosions and opposition activists posted photos online of jet streams in the evening sky and fiery explosions.

Syria’s army general command said on state television that there were “material losses in some facilities”, adding that the strike benefited al Qaeda.

Syria’s state news agency, Sana, said the strikes were a “flagrant attack on Syria”, while the official news agency in Lebanon said Israeli jets breached its airspace yesterday.

A resident in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya, close to Dimas, said the agricultural airport in Dimas was hit.

Dimas is in a mountainous area to the northwest of the capital which is under government control and close to several military installations.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict through a network of sources on both sides, said 10 explosions were heard near Dimas. It said that one missile hit a warehouse for imports and exports at the Damascus international airport.

Syrian state media reported in May 2013 that Israeli aircraft struck in three places, including the Dimas airport. At the time, Western and Israeli officials said it was a strike on Iranian missiles bound for Hezbollah.

Syria’s war started with a pro-democracy movement which grew into an armed uprising and has inflamed regional confrontations. Some 200,000 people have died, the UN says.

A US-led coalition is also bombing Syria from the skies but targeting the Islamic State militant group, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s biggest foes.

Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the revolt against President Assad began in March 2011. Most of the strikes have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.

Israel has never confirmed the airstrikes.

While Israel has tried to stay out of the war in neighbouring Syria, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to its ally Hezbollah. Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies and fought an intense month-long war in 2006.

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