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Syrian capital rocked by explosions as Israel hits targets

Residents said multiple explosions shook Damascus for about 15 minutes as air defenses fired back

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DAMASCUS, 24 February 2020 (AP/ Reuters) : Israeli fighter jets launched air strikes on suspected Islamic Jihad positions in Syria, the Israeli military said on Monday, after the militant group and Israel exchanged rockets and air strikes around Gaza.
An Israeli military statement said its forces had “struck Islamic Jihad terror targets south of Damascus” in addition to “dozens” of Islamic Jihad targets throughout the Gaza Strip.
The air strike in the Adeliyah region outside Damascus targeted what the Israeli military called “a hub of Islamic Jihad’s activity in Syria,” including the research and development of weapons.
The Israeli announcement came shortly after Syrian state media said its air defenses had intercepted “hostile targets” over the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Residents said multiple explosions shook Damascus for about 15 minutes as air defenses fired back.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict, said the explosions resulted from Israeli bombing of suspected Iranian-backed militias in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport.
The strike escalated the latest round of hostilities, which began around dawn on Sunday, when, Israel said, its troops killed an Islamic Jihad member who was trying to plant explosives near Israel’s border fence with the Gaza Strip.
Shortly before midnight on Sunday, the Syrian state news agency SANA quoted a military source saying that Israeli planes had entered Syrian airspace and targeted areas around Damascus with a wave of guided missiles.
Syrian state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV aired footage of what it said were explosions set off in the Damascus night sky by the air defense system shooting down missiles.
The Syrian military source said most missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets and that the aftermath of the strike was being examined.
Israel frequently strikes at targets inside Syria, but has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations there.

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