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Syrian Army Says Air Defenses Intercepted 'Israeli Aggression' Over Damascus

Druse supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad display display pictures of him during a rally close to the Syrian border demanding the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967, in Majdal Shams, Golan Heights, Feb. 14, 2021.

Syria's army said on Monday the country's air defenses intercepted an "Israeli aggression" over the capital, Damascus, in the latest stepped-up bombing of Iranian targets inside the country.

State media did not give details of what was hit by the Israeli air force in the latest strikes by Israel against Iranian-backed military targets inside the country in the past two months.

Israeli military planes flew over the Golan Heights to hit select targets on the edge of the capital, an army statement said, without mentioning casualties but adding that air defenses downed most of the missiles.

"Our air defenses are continuing to repel the Israeli missile attacks over the skies of the capital," the Syrian army said in a statement.

Israel's military did not immediately comment on the latest strike, but its senior military officials have acknowledged the escalating attacks inside Syria had the goal of ending Tehran's entrenched military presence in Syria.

Western intelligence sources say Iran's military influence has expanded in Syria in recent years prompting Israel to escalate a campaign to prevent its archrival from establishing a major military foothold along its border that posed a threat to its security.

Witnesses heard heavy explosions on the southern edge of Damascus, an area where Iranian-backed militias are entrenched, residents said.

Iran's proxy militias led by Lebanon's Hezbollah now hold sway over vast areas in eastern, southern and northwestern Syria, as well as several suburbs around Damascus. They also control Lebanese Syrian border areas.