Conflicting reports arise after ‘attack’ Monday on Syria

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By Middle East Affairs

Syrian military sources said Monday that while defense systems were activated, reports of an early morning missile attack on Shayrat air base were actually a false alarm, according to DPA news agency and Haaretz.

Hezbollah also had said six missiles were fired toward Shayrat and three missiles toward Dumair military airport near Damascus, Reuters reported.

While all of this was going on, SANA also reported that Syrian air defenses had shot down the oncoming missiles, and Hezbollah media said all nine missiles were intercepted. Haaretz said a false alarm was reported, as well, near Aleppo. However, Sky News claimed loud explosions were heard on the Syria-Lebanon border.

Neither SANA nor Hezbollah offered an accusation of who sent the missiles.

Reuters reported that a commander in Syria’s regional alliance attributed the malfunction to “a joint electronic attack” by Israel and the United States targeting the Syrian radar system.

Elijah J. Magnier, a journalist who works closely with Hezbollah, also claimed Israeli jets fired at least three missiles at the airport, “while violating Lebanese airspace.”

At the Pentagon, a spokesman told Reuters there “is no U.S. military activity in that area at this time.” Israel declined to comment.

A senior Israeli military official admitted Monday to The New York Times that Israel targeted an Iranian air base in Syria last week.

“It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets — both facilities and people,” said the Israeli military source.

The attack killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force members, and at the time Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.

The official also told The Times that when an armed Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace in February, it “opened a new period,” and that it was “the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel – not by proxy.”

Israel recently said that drone, which launched from Syria, was armed with explosives and on its way to attack.

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