Syria says Israeli warplanes hit Damascus airport warehouse

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Damascus has been under missile attack by US in the past. (AP)
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An Israeli C-130 Hercules plane launches anti-missile flares. (File/ AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Syria says Israeli warplanes hit Damascus airport warehouse

  • SANA news agency says most of the missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defenses
  • Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes in Syria that have mainly targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces

DAMASCUA/BEIRUT: Missiles fired by Israeli warplanes struck a warehouse at Damascus International Airport late on Friday, causing damage but no casualties, a Syrian military official said.

Quoting an unidentified official, the official SANA news agency said the warplanes fired a number of missiles toward the Damascus area, triggering Syrian air defenses that shot down most of them.

Most of the missiles fired by “Israeli military planes” were intercepted at around 11:00 p.m., the source said.

“Only a Ministry of Transport warehouse at Damascus international airport was hit,” the Syrian state news agency cited the military source as saying.

The official said Israeli aircraft coming from the south fired several missiles at areas near Damascus about 45 minutes before midnight. He said Syrian air defense units shot down most of the missiles, but gave no details on other sites targeted.

“The results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the warehouses at Damascus airport,” SANA said.

The state media also broadcast footage of what it said were the air defenses firing, with bright lights seen shooting across the night sky. Explosions were heard in one of the videos.

 

Areas under target

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said the attack was broader than usual, targeting areas ranging from the eastern Damascus suburb of Dmeir to Kiswa south of capital all the way to the village of Dimas in the west near the Lebanon border.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said airstrikes targeted an area near the airport while others hit the area of Kiswa, which is home to positions and storage sites for Iranian and Hezbollah forces allied with Syria’s government.

“Two areas hosting military positions of Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement have been targeted,” the monitor said.

The airport is running normally, according to the state news agency that quoted a Transport Ministry source as saying.

There was no immediate word from Israel, which rarely comments on such attacks. Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes in Syria that have mainly targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces.

It was the first airstrike on the Damascus area this year since Israeli warplanes struck areas near the capital on Christmas Day. In last month’s incident, Israeli aircraft flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near Damascus, hitting an arms depot and wounding three soldiers.

Israeli drones and warplanes were heard flying on Friday afternoon over Lebanon.

Russia announced it had delivered the S-300 air defense system to Syria in October. That followed the Sept. 17 downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian forces responding to an Israeli airstrike, a friendly fire incident that stoked regional tensions.

Israel has mounted attacks in Syria as part of its effort to counter the influence carved out there by Iran, which has supported President Bashar Assad in the war that erupted in 2011.

The last Israeli attack reported by Syrian state media was on Dec. 25, when a missile attack wounded three Syrian soldiers.

A senior Israeli official said in September Israel had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Iranian and Iran-backed militant groups including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed into Syria in support of Assad regime during the war. 

In an earlier report, SANA had spoken of Syrian air-defense batteries attacking “enemy targets.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed not to let Tehran — a supporter of Assad — entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.

On Dec. 25, Assad accused the Israeli air force of firing missiles bear Damascus.

In September a Russian military plane was accidentally shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire that was attempting to block Israeli missiles.

Russia is a main ally of Damascus.


Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

Updated 57 min 33 sec ago
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Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

ANKARA: Turkey will not turn back from its deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday, a day after an informal deadline Washington set for Ankara to respond to a rival offer passed.
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defense system, despite warnings from the US-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
US officials had set an informal deadline of February 15 for Ankara to respond to the rival US offer and have said that if Turkey proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will withdraw its offer to sell a $3.5 billion Raytheon Co. Patriot missile package.
They have also said it would jeopardize Turkey’s purchase of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in the United States imposing sanctions.
However, speaking to reporters on the flight back from the Russian resort of Sochi, where a three-way summit on Syria between Turkey, Russia and Iran was held, Erdogan said Ankara would press on with the S-400 purchases.
“We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done,” Erdogan said, according to broadcaster NTV.
He said Turkey was open to purchasing Patriot systems from the United States as long as the deal served Turkey’s interests, but added there were issues on delivery and production that were still being discussed with Washington.
“The US administration views the early delivery issue positively, but they won’t say anything about joint production or a credit. We continue our work based on the promise of the S-400 deliveries in July.”
The formal US offer for Turkey’s purchase of Patriot systems expires at the end of March, US officials have told Reuters, after which a new offer would have to be submitted.
The US asked Turkey to give at least an informal answer on whether it would go ahead with its S-400 purchase by February 15, one US official said.
It was not immediately clear whether Turkey had responded to the US offer.