Syrian state media claims Israeli airstrikes hit sites near Damascus

Four civilians have been killed and 21 injured in Israeli missile strikes near Damascus, Syria’s state news agency Sana has claimed.

An Agence France-Presse correspondent in Damascus reported hearing loud explosions on Sunday night.

The Syrian news agency said the missiles struck near Damascus and in Homs province. The Syrian military said air defences had confronted the attack, which was launched from Lebanese airspace.

“Our air defences confronted enemy missiles launched by Israeli warplanes (…) towards some of our positions in Homs and in the vicinity of Damascus,” Sana said, quoting a Syrian military source.

Syrian state-run broadcaster al-Ikhbariya said the four civilians including a baby had been killed in Sahnaya, south of Damascus, as “a result of the Zionist aggression”.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the strikes hit several Iranian positions near Damascus and targeted a research centre and a military airport west of the city of Homs where the Hezbollah Shiite movement and Iranians are deployed.

On 12 June, Israeli warplanes struck a Syrian army position in the country’s south.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the observatory chief, said the strikes injured some of these forces.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, targeting forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the regime’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.

Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war, and Israel says they are trying to turn Syria into a new front against Israelis.