Israel strikes Syria in response to anti-aircraft fire

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FILE PHOTO: Fences are seen on the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

JERUSALEM -The Israeli military said it attacked missile batteries in Syria on Wednesday after an anti-aircraft missile was fired towards Israel during what Syrian state television reported was an earlier strike around Damascus.

A military spokesperson declined to comment on the Syrian report of an initial Israeli attack near the Syrian capital which reportedly killed one soldier and injured five.

But the military said it carried out a counter-strike in Syria in response to the launching of the anti-aircraft missile. It said the missile triggered sirens in parts of Israel and the occupied West Bank, and exploded in mid-air.

“Following the anti-aircraft missile launch earlier tonight, the Israel Defense Forces attacked surface-to-air missile batteries and radar that fired at Israeli air force planes,” the military said on Twitter.

Syrian state TV said earlier that Syrian air defences had downed a number of Israeli missiles over Damascus.

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Israel launched surface-to-surface missiles from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syrian air defences shot down some of them, Syrian state TV said.

“Israeli aggression” also carried out an air strike earlier on Wednesday with missiles from southeast of Lebanon’s capital Beirut, state TV added.

One Syrian soldier was killed and five were wounded in the attacks, state TV reported, citing a military source.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it says are Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces led by Lebanon’s Hezbollah have supported President Bashar al-Assad over the past decade in Syria’s civil war.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Kinda Makieh and Ahmed Tolba; editing by Grant McCool, Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.)