Syria says it is repelling Israeli strikes, anti-aircraft missile fragments hit Israel

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria said it repelled a missile salvo from Israel on Sunday, where police reported the remnants of a Syrian anti-aircraft missile hit a remote town without causing any injuries.

In recent months, Israel has intensified its strikes on Syrian airports and airbases to disrupt Iran’s growing use of air supply lines to deliver weapons to allies in Syria and Lebanon, including Lebanese Hezbollah.

Syrian state media said air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles in the center of the country, shooting down most of them. According to a statement from the Syrian army, missiles that flew over parts of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, hit locations near the city of Homs, causing only material damage.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the information.

An Israeli military spokesman said fighter jets struck targets including a Syrian air defense battery from which an anti-aircraft missile was launched towards Israel.

After a mid-air explosion heard across Israel, the remnants of the Syrian missile landed in Rahat, a town about 180 km (110 miles) south of the armistice line between the countries, Israel Police said. There was no news of casualties.

Local media showed what appeared to be the blackened front end of a large missile, standing in an open area among residential buildings, and tail fins in a field.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were unharmed.

The Israeli strikes are part of an escalation of what has been a low-intensity conflict that has been going on for years in a bid to slow Iran’s growing entrenchment in Syria, according to Israeli military experts.

Tehran’s influence has grown in Syria since it began backing President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that began in 2011.

Iran-allied fighters, including Hezbollah, now rule parts of eastern, southern and northwestern Syria and several suburbs around the capital.

(This story has been reclassified to correct capitalization of “it” in the title)

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman and Moaz Abd-Alaziz in Cairo; Editing by David Gregorio, Daniel Wallis and William Mallard)

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