Regime media report air defence confronted "enemy targets" above the capital and downed most of the missiles before landing. But, a war monitor says the air raid targeted arms depots for Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Iranian forces.

Smoke rises past a mountain as seen from Damascus countryside, Syria December 25, 2018.
Smoke rises past a mountain as seen from Damascus countryside, Syria December 25, 2018. (Reuters)

Warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Tuesday and some of the missiles were shot down by air defence units, Syrian regime media said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Regime-run SANA news agency and the broadcaster both reported that air defence opened fire on "enemy targets" to "confront" them, without giving further details.

SANA said "a number of enemy targets were downed" by the air defence.

While the regime television didn't identify the planes, Lebanon's the state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli warplanes were flying at low altitude over parts of southern Lebanon. 

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a war monitor, said Israeli air strikes targeted three positions south of Damascus that are arms depots for Lebanon's Hezbollah group and Iranian forces.

"It's an Israeli raid," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads SOHR.

"Missiles fired from Israeli planes targeted... arms depots southwest and south of Damascus that belong to Hezbollah or Iranian forces," Abdel Rahman said.

"Our air defences confronted hostile missiles launched by Israeli warplanes from above the Lebanese territories and downed most of them before reaching their targets," state TV quoted a regime military source as saying.

Russian Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that Israeli strikes on Syria had directly threatened two civilian flights, Russian Interfax Agency reported.

The ministry, which did not specify which flights had been threatened, added that Syrian air defences had destroyed 14 of 16 Israeli missiles launched against unspecified targets near Damascus late on Tuesday.

'The aggression is still ongoing'

The reported attack near Damascus is the first since US President Donald Trump announced last week that the US will withdraw all of its 2,000 forces in Syria, a move that will leave control of the oil-rich eastern third of Syria up for grabs.

Nearly an hour after the attacks began, Damascus residents could still hear the air defence units firing toward targets in the air.

"The aggression is still ongoing," said a presenter on state TV, which interrupted its programmes to air patriotic songs.

Meanwhile, Israel's military spokesman unit also reported action, though it did not confirm air attacks. 

It said in a statement that "an aerial defence system was activated against an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria." No damage or injuries were reported by the Israeli military.

Israeli air strikes

Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of air strikes in the past that mainly targeted Iranian and Hezbollah forces fighting alongside the regime in Syria. 

Tuesday's attack is the first since a missile assault on the southern outskirts of Damascus on November 29.

Russia announced it had delivered the S-300 air defence system to Syria in October. 

That followed the September 17 downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by Syrian regime forces responding to an Israeli air strike, a friendly fire incident that stoked regional tensions.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies