Syria says Israeli strikes hit near airport west of capital

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria on Friday accused Israel of firing rockets that hit near a major military airport west of Damascus, triggering a fire, and warned Tel Aviv of repercussions without specifying whether it would retaliate for the attack, the third such incident recently according to the Syrian government.

In a statement carried on the official news agency SANA, the military said several missiles were launched just after midnight from an area near Lake Tiberias that fell in the vicinity of the Mezzeh military airport on the western edge of the capital. It did not say whether there were any casualties.

Residents of Damascus reported hearing several explosions that shook the capital. The Mezzeh airport compound located on the southwestern edge of the capital had been used to launch attacks on rebel-held areas near Damascus and has come previously under rebel fire.

The Syrian army statement said Israel through its attacks was assisting “terrorist groups” fighting the Syrian government.

“The Syrian army command and armed forces warn the Israeli enemy of the repercussions of this blatant attack and stresses it will continue its war on terrorism,” the army statement said.

It was the third such Israeli strike into Syria recently, according to the Syrian government.

On Dec. 7, the Syrian government reported Israel fired surface-to-surface missiles that also struck near Mezzeh airport. A week earlier, SANA said Israeli jets fired two missiles from Lebanese airspace toward the outskirts of Damascus, in the Sabboura area.

The Israeli military has declined to comment on those incidents, and there was no immediate comment on Friday’s reported attack.

But Israel is widely believed to have carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria in the past few years that have targeted advanced weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, as well as positions of the Lebanese Hezbollah group in Syria.

The Shiite group has sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to support President Bashar Assad’s forces in the country’s civil war, now in its sixth year.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently reiterated his government’s position to not get involved in the Syrian war.

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