Middle East

Syrian TV says Damascus targeted ‘from direction of’ Israel

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Loud blasts echoed across Damascus late on Friday, residents said, as Syrian state media reported “enemy targets” coming from the direction of Israel, which has previously acknowledged conducting repeated strikes inside Syria.

The state television channel showed footage of the night sky with a point of light firing up into it and the sound of shooting, and reported that air defenses had brought down some objects. It did not immediately report casualties or material damage.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, but it has been increasingly open in recent months about targeting sites in Syria that it says are connected to Damascus’ close allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Israel regards Iran as its biggest enemy and the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah as the main threat on its borders. Iran and Hezbollah have played a key military role in helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fend off rebels in an eight-year war.

Israel is worried that through their fighting in Syria, Iran has transferred weapons and skills to Hezbollah that might eventually be used in a war against it.

Israel and Hezbollah last fought a direct conflict in 2006 on Lebanese soil.

Tensions between Tehran and its regional enemies rose further this week after attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf, leading to concerns about a conflict between Iran and the United States, Israel’s closest ally.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the blasts were caused by Israeli rocket fire targeting areas around the Syrian capital.

Reporting by Angus McDowall in Beirut, Hesham Hajali in Cairo and Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by Catherine Evans

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