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.


Algeria frees journalist month into one year jail term

Updated 24 January 2019
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Algeria frees journalist month into one year jail term

  • The journalist was arrested on December 9 during a protest in Algiers
  • He was previously arrested on October 22 on allegations of blackmail

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has released a journalist a month after he was sentenced to one year in jail for taking part in an unauthorised protest, his lawyer said.
Adlene Mellah, who heads the news websites Algerie Direct and Dzair Presse, was arrested on December 9 for attending a rally in support of an imprisoned singer.
He was found guilty of unlawful assembly and sentenced to one year in jail on December 25.
On Wednesday a court in Algiers gave him a suspended six-month sentence and released him on appeal, said the lawyer, Noureddine Benissad.
Mellah was first arrested on October 22 in a separate case of alleged blackmail, before being released a month later.
He still faces charges of blackmail, defamation and invasion of privacy in that case which is due go before a court on February 7.
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Algeria 136th out of 180 countries on its press freedom index for 2018.