Israeli airstrike targets Damascus area, says Syria

The attack, allegedly by Israel, comes after Iran was blamed for damaging an Israeli-owned ship in the Persian Gulf.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Syrian media reported Monday that a missile attack overnight in the area of the capital Damascus hit Iranian military targets in what appeared to be a reprisal by Israel for an attack on an Israeli-owned ship.

“Violent explosions” that rocked the city were “caused by attempts by regime air defenses to intercept the Israeli missiles,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, affiliated with the Syrian opposition, reported, adding there were no reports of casualties.

The Syrian news agency SANA reported that air defense systems were activated around Damascus. A Syrian military source told the news agency that the attack came from the direction of the Golan Heights with air defense systems shooting down “most of the missiles.”

“Missiles hit the surrounding areas of Sayeda Zeinab in south of the capital, Damascus, which is a major stronghold of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Lebanese Hezbollah,” the SOHR said in a statement on its website, adding that there were no immediate reports of casualties.

According to the group, it was the third such air strike in February, with previous attacks targeting advanced weapons that Iran was supplying to Hezbollah and its Shiite militias in Syria. Those strikes “destroyed sophisticated missile depots that Iran had recently transferred.”

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On Thursday night, the Israeli-owned cargo ship Helios Ray suffered two explosions in international waters between Oman and Iran and was forced to dock in nearby Dubai for repairs as investigators determine what explosives were used in the attack.

Although initial reports indicated the explosions high above the waterline were caused by rocket-propelled grenades fired by boats at sea, investigators now believe they were caused by limpet mines that had been attached to the hull during a stop in a port, Channel 13 news reported Sunday.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran was behind the attack on the Israeli ship.

“This was indeed an action by Iran, it is clear,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Kan News the morning after the alleged Israeli airstrikes on Damascus. “It is Israel’s biggest enemy, and we are hitting it all over the region.”

Iran had promised revenge on Israel for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist in November.