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Israeli air strikes hit targets in Syria

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Israel carried out air strikes in Syria near the government-held city of Homs, Syrian state media reported yesterday, and the Israeli army later said it struck an anti-aircraft battery after rocket fire.

A war monitor said the Homs-area strikes killed a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

During more than a decade of war in Syria, Israel has launched hundreds of air raids on Syrian territory, primarily targeting Iran-backed forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions.

“The Israeli enemy carried out air strikes coming from the northeast of Beirut, targeting some points in the vicinity of the city of Homs,” which is about 20 kilometres from Lebanon, Syrian state-run news agency SANA said, quoting a military source. SANA reported that Syrian air defences intercepted some missiles, and that there had been some “material” losses.

In a brief statement early Sunday that did not mention the air strikes, Israel’s army said a Syrian anti-aircraft rocket “appears to have exploded in the air over Israeli territory”.

Several hours later the military said it had targeted “an anti-aircraft battery in Syria, as a response to the launch of an anti-aircraft rocket from Syria into Israeli territory”.

It added that Israeli jets had also “struck additional targets in the area”, and that no injuries were reported from the Syrian missile.

Authorities inspect the remains of an anti-aircraft rocket that exploded in the air in Rahat. PHOTO: AP

Israeli media showed pictures purportedly from a piece of the missile about 1.5 metres in length which landed in Rahat.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said the strikes targeted “Hezbollah sites and ammunition depots” on the northeastern outskirts of Homs, killing one member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and wounding four others.

Iran has long backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in the country’s years-long civil war, but says it has no troops in Syria, only IRGC military advisers.

Israeli strikes in Syria killed two Revolutionary Guards in late March.

Israel’s latest strikes also targeted an air defence base in Qadmus, in Tartus province northwest of Homs, said the Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria.

Israel rarely comments on the strikes it carries out on Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow its arch foe Iran to expand its footprint there.

On June 14, Israel carried out air strikes near Damascus wounding a soldier, according to SANA.

The Observatory, based in Britain, said at the time that the strikes had targeted arms depots belonging to pro-Iran fighters.

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