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Syrian state media says air defences hit Israeli plane, thwart missile strike

by Reuters
Sunday, 8 July 2018 20:21 GMT

(recasts with Syria accusing Israel, adds details)

BEIRUT, July 8 (Reuters) - Syrian military air defences struck an Israeli warplane and shot down Israeli missiles targeting the T4 air base in Homs province in response to an act of "aggression" on Sunday night, Syrian state media said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said Israel does not comment on foreign reports.

Israel has grown deeply alarmed by the expanding clout of its arch enemy Iran during the seven-year war in neighbouring Syria. Israel's air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah.

Damascus, as well as its allies Iran and Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on the same Homs base, an attack that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Tehran vowed at the time to respond.

Syrian state news agency SANA said the missile attack on Sunday caused only material damage.

"Our air defence systems thwarted an Israeli aggression and brought down a number of missiles that were targeting the T4 airport," it cited a military source as saying.

The air defences hit one of the "attacking planes and forced the rest to leave" Syrian air space, it added.

In May, Israel said it attacked Tehran's military infrastructure in Syria, accusing Iranian forces of firing rockets at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, in the most extensive military exchange between the two foes.

An Israeli-Iranian showdown also flared over Syria in February, when Israel said an armed drone coming from the T4 base penetrated its air space. Israel blew up the drone and carried out a raid on Syrian air defenses, in which one of its F-16 jets was downed. (Reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut, additional reporting by Kinda Makieh in Damascus, Idrees Ali in Washington and Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem Editing by Keith Weir and Peter Graff)

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