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Israel Attacks Iranian Forces Near Damascus - Spokesman

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on September 15, 2018, reportedly shows Syrian air defense batteries responding to what the Syrian state media said were Israeli missiles targeting Damascus international airport.

In a surprise move, an Israeli military spokesman told news agencies that Israel has attacked targets in Syria.

The spokesman said Israeli aircraft on Saturday struck Iranian forces near Damascus that were planning to launch armed drones at targets in Israel.

"The strike targeted Iranian Qods (Quds) Force operatives and Shiite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days," the military said in a statement.

Syrian state media also reported the attack saying Syrian air defenses responded late Saturday to "hostile" targets over Damascus, shooting down all incoming missiles before they reached their targets.

State TV did not give further details about the Israeli attack that struck shortly before midnight.

An Israeli military spokesman, Avichay Adraee, also tweeted that warplanes struck several targets in the village of Aqraba southeast of Damascus. He said the strikes aimed to abort a "terrorist attack" that Iran's Qods Force and other Shiite militias were planning to carry out against Israeli targets.

There have been hundreds of attacks on targets in Syria in the past three years attributed to Israel, but usually Israeli officials do not comment on the issue

But on August 24 a military spokesman told reporters the forces were preparing to launch "killer drones" at Israel.

There have been several attacks this month on pro-Iran militia targets in Iraq and this week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu twice indirectly indicated Israel might be behind those airstrikes.

Speaking to the Israeli Channel 9 network August 22, broadcasting for Jewish-Russian immigrants, Netanyahu stressed, "I don't grant Iran immunity anywhere," adding, "Iran is a state, a power, that has sworn to annihilate Israel. It's trying to establish bases against us everywhere; in Iran itself, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen."

Reporting by Reuters and AP