Syria claims it defended against a large-scale missile attack from Israel on Sunday, after debris from a Syrian anti-aircraft missile landed in an Israeli town.
Israeli Defense Forces say none of their aircraft were damaged in the exhange, and the debris did not cause any injuries. Syrian officials say they shot down most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their target near the city of Homs, north of the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
The Israeli military says the strike targeted air defense batteries in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign of strikes against Iranian-allied forces in the country.
Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, announced that the IDF has more than doubled the rate of strikes in Syria since he gained office last year.
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Israeli officials have acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes on Iranian targets in neighboring Syria – where Iran has sent advisers and forces to assist President Bashar Assad in a 12-year civil war. But officials have given few details over the years and rarely comment on specific operations.
“Iran aims to expand its reach to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and even the shores of the Mediterranean,” Gallant warned in May. “This is a structured plan designed to threaten trade and flight routes – both military and civilian – and to create a permanent threat in the maritime arena.”
Iran-backed forces in Syria have attacked U.S. and allied forces in Syria throughout the past year. Intermittent rocket and explosive drone attacks have struck a U.S. base near the Al-Omar oil field.
The U.S. currently has roughly 900 troops stationed in Syria and carries out its own missile strikes against Iranian-allied targets.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.