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Syria: Repelled Israeli Air Raid       01/20 09:56

   DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian state media say air defenses repelled an 
Israeli air raid near the international airport south of Damascus on Sunday.

   Syrian state TV said the air defenses "prevented" the attack from achieving 
its goals. It said Israel fired six missiles on an area near Damascus 
International Airport, of which five were shot down and one diverted to nearby 
empty farmland. It marked a rare daytime raid, as most previous strikes have 
been at night.

   Residents of the capital said they heard five explosions early Sunday 
afternoon, apparently the sound of air defenses firing into the air.

   Israel's army declined comment on the airstrike. It said that a rocket fired 
at Syria's Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was intercepted by the country's Iron 
Dome defense system.

   Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon's airspace recently to strike deep 
inside Syria, including on a warehouse near Damascus International Airport 
earlier this month, according to Syrian state media.

   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that Israel has 
struck hundreds of targets in Syria linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah 
group, including a weapons facility two weeks ago. Iran and Hezbollah are 
allied with the Syrian government in the civil war.

   Two hours after the reports that Israel's Iron Dome intercept a rocket fired 
toward the Golan Heights, Netanyahu, who currently on a visit to Chad, said in 
a statement: "We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria 
and to harm anyone who tries to harm us."

   Earlier Sunday, a roadside bomb went off south of Damascus without causing 
casualties, state media reported. The SANA news agency says the blast targeted 
a military checkpoint on a main highway during rush hour.

   The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely 
monitors the war, said the bomb targeted the vehicle of a "security 
personality" that it did not name. The Observatory's chief, Rami Abdurrahman, 
said it was unclear whether the individual was killed or wounded. "It was not a 
random act," he added.

   Attacks have been rare in Damascus since Syrian government forces captured 
the last rebel-held neighborhoods and suburbs of the capital last year. 
Bombings have left hundreds dead over the course of the nearly eight-year civil 
war.

   In the northern Syrian town of Afrin, a blast aboard a bus killed at least 
three people.

   The attack came on the anniversary of a Turkish military operation that 
evicted Kurdish fighters from the town and displaced tens of thousands of its 
residents. The town now is under the control of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition 
fighters.

   The Observatory said three people were killed and nine wounded in the 
explosion. The Syrian Civil Defense, an opposition-linked group known as the 
White Helmets, said the blast killed "martyrs" and that others were wounded and 
rushed to hospitals.


(KA)

 
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