Syria denies Israeli airstrike on airbase outside Damascus

State news says explosions caused by short circuit, not by Israeli missiles.

A missile is seen crossing over Damascus, Syria April 14, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS (photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
A missile is seen crossing over Damascus, Syria April 14, 2018. SANA/Handout via REUTERS
(photo credit: SANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Syria’s state media denied reports of an Israeli air-strike on an airbase outside the capital of Damascus, claiming the explosions were caused by an electrical problem at a munitions dump.
“No Israeli aggression on Mazzeh airport, and the explosions heard in Damascus are explosions of ammunitions warehouses [sic] near the airport caused by short circuit,” the official Syrian news agency SANA quoted a military official as saying of the incident, which occurred shortly after midnight and triggered a series of large explosions.
Unconfirmed reports said that five missiles were fired by Israel against a convoy of long-range missiles at the airport.
Meanwhile an official in the regional alliance backing Damascus told Reuters that the explosions were caused by Israeli missile fire from the Golan Heights and that Syrian air defenses had responded.
Analyst: US uses alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria as pretext for missile strikes, August 27, 2018 (Reuters)


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According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the military airbase southwest of the capital was hit by a “possible Israeli missile, which hit a munitions store setting off successive explosions,” adding that it caused deaths and injuries.
The airbase has been repeatedly targeted in recent years by air-strikes blamed on Israel.
In December 2016, Syria accused Israel of launching surface-to-surface missiles targeting the airport’s runway, operations command center and the regime’s 4th division operations center, causing damage but no casualties.
Damascus also accused Israel of striking the base last year.
Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria but has publicly admitted to having struck more than 100 Hezbollah convoys and other targets in Syria, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that strikes will continue when “we have information and operational feasibility.”
The incident comes shortly after a possible Iranian-built missile factory was identified in Syria by satellite images, and reports that Iran is moving ballistic missiles to Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there. Tehran has denied those reports.
“Such false and ridiculous news have no purpose other than affecting Iran’s foreign relations, especially with its neighbors,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi was quoted as saying by Iran’s IRNA.
It also comes as US special representative to Syria James Jeffrey and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at State Department Joel Rayburn are in Israel to discuss attempts to remove Iran’s presence in the region.
Jeffrey and Rayburn, who will also visit Jordan and Turkey, met with Zohar Palti, the head of the Political-Military Bureau at Israel’s Ministry of Defense, who emphasized the need to preserve Israel’s security interests in the north by preventing Iran and Hezbollah from establishing themselves in Syria.
Palti emphasized the close relationship between the United States and Israel, and the importance the Israeli defense establishment attributes to the continuation of the American sanctions against Iran, which will severely harm Iran’s ability to finance terrorism in the Middle East.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish State.