Syrian air defenses responded to alleged Israeli missile strikes targeting sites near Damascus on Sunday night, according to Syrian state news SANA.
A military source told SANA that the missiles were fired from the Golan Heights and that Syrian air defenses had succeeded in intercepting most of them.
Video shared by the opposition-affiliated Halab Today TV showed what was reportedly a Syrian interceptor missile falling short within a residential neighborhood in Damascus during the strike. Similar incidents have occurred in the past, with interceptor missiles even falling on houses and injuring and killing Syrian citizens.
فيديو متداول للحظة انفجار صاروخ، قالت مواقع محلية إن دفاعات قوات النظام الجوية أطلقته في منطقة سكنية، أثناء محاولتها التصدي للقصف الإسرائيلي على مواقع قوات النظام بمحيط العاصمة #دمشق. pic.twitter.com/oBynsw7lZi— Halab Today TV قناة حلب اليوم (@HalabTodayTV) February 15, 2021
The strikes targeted the 1st Corps of the Syrian military in Al-Kiswah, south of Damascus, as well as other targets, according to Halab Today TV.
The extent of casualties or damages is still unclear. Ambulances transferred wounded from the scene in Al-Kiswah and Iranian espionage equipment was greatly damaged in the strike, according to Halab Today TV. The equipment was recently transferred to the area by pro-Iranian forces, according to the report.
Earlier on Sunday, the Syrian Capital Voice site reported that Iranian forces were using shipping containers belonging to the United Nations and DHL to store weapons near the Damascus International Airport. According to the report, weapons are stored in the containers for a few days after arriving in Syria before being transferred to other locations.
There are over 25 containers being used by Iran to store weapons near the airport, according to the report.
Additionally on Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left a coronavirus cabinet meeting to handle a matter of "national security," according to Israeli media.
On Saturday, a round-trip Fars Air Qeshm flight between Tehran and Damascus was reported by civilian flight tracking sites. The airline is believed to be used by Iran to transfer weapons to Syria and Lebanon.
The strikes are the sixth in the past two months, with strikes attributed to Israel reported in eastern, southern and Western Syria in January and earlier in February.
The last strike blamed on Israel in Syria was reported on February 4, with alleged Israeli airstrikes targeted sites in southern Syria and near Damascus.Early on Monday morning, just hours after the reported strike, the IDF announced that the IAF had started the "Vered Hagalil" surprise exercise. The exercise, that started on Sunday and operated under the directive of the Commanding Officer of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, is designed to improve Air Force readiness for combat in the Northern arena, an IDF statement said.
During the exercise, elevated level of IDF aircrafts, jets and helicopter traffic will be felt across the country, and a number of explosions may be heard in northern Israel. The exercise is expected to end on Wednesday.
The "Vered Hagalil" exercise simulates combat scenarios in the Northern front, and will test all components in the IAF's core missions, including maintaining aerial superiority, protecting the country's skies, as well as attacking and gathering intelligence. The IDF General Staff Forum is set to meet later on Monday at Northern Command to discuss the "Vered Hagalil" exercise and operational plans that have been built in case the situation escalates along the northern front, according to Channel 12.
Tensions remain high in the region in the aftermath of the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh just east of Tehran, which Iran blames on Israel, and the recent one-year anniversary of the US assassination of former IRGC Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
Fears that the US may return to the nuclear deal with Iran have also raised concerns in recent weeks, with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi stating last month that he had ordered operational plans to strike Iran’s nuclear program to be ready if necessary.
Iran has reportedly attempted to target Israeli embassies recently in response, with an explosion reported last week next to the one in New Delhi, carried out by a terror organization called Jaish-ul-Hind, believed to be affiliated with Iran. Thwarted attempted attacks on embassies in Africa were also reported by Israeli and local media.Udi Shaham contributed to this report.