Three Israeli missiles shot down near Damascus: Syria
BEIRUT - The Associated Press
Syrian air defense units shot down three Israeli missiles that were targeting a military post near the capital, Damascus, only days after the Jewish state hit a military position nearby, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported on Dec. 5.
Elsewhere in Syria, an explosion ripped through a van near the central city of Homs, killing at least eight people. The Islamic State group claimed the attack in Akarma on Dec. 5, a government stronghold south of the city.
IS says it targeted a bus carrying Syrian soldiers, but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those killed were civilians, including six women.
Syrian state TV has aired images of the van’s charred body, as well as damaged vehicles nearby. State news agency SANA said eight people were killed and 18 wounded.
Homs, Syria’s third largest city, is frequently hit by bombs. The city was known as the "capital of the revolution" following the 2011 uprising against President Bashar Assad, but is now under government control.
Media reports said the missile attack on Dec. 2 near the Damascus suburb of Kiswa targeted an Iranian military position. The Observatory said at the time that the area had an Iranian and Hezbollah presence, but said it was not clear if they were targeted.
Though Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in neighboring Syria, it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Israel has struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
In September, Israeli warplanes hit a military position near the Mediterranean coast, killing two soldiers and causing material damage.
Last month, the Israeli military said it shot down a drone above the Golan Heights that tried to infiltrate its airspace from Syria. It said the drone was operated by the Syrian government and was shot down in the demilitarized zone between the two countries. In September, Israel said it shot down an Iranian-made drone sent by Hezbollah in the same area. Iran has also backed Assad in Syria’s nearly seven-year civil war.