Syrian air defence fires at 'enemy missiles' in Damascus: state media

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stands near a sculpture in the Syrian town of Quneitra, in the Golan Heights (AFP Photo/Louai Beshara)

Damascus (AFP) - The Syrian army's anti-aircraft defence was activated Sunday against "enemy missiles" fired from Israel at "positions" in southwest Damascus, the official SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying.

"At dawn Sunday, enemy air targets arrived from the occupied Golan", the military source said. "Our air defence blocked and shot down these enemy missiles which targeted our positions in southwest Damascus."

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said "warehouses and positions" in the Kesswa region, where Syrian and Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters allied to Damascus have been stationed, were targeted.

Located southwest of the capital, the area has been targeted several times in the past.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria, most of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

Israel says it is determined to prevent its arch foe Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad in the country's eight-year war which has killed more than 370,000 people.

The Jewish state insists that it has the right to continue to target positions in Syria held by Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

On May 27 Syria said Israel carried out a missile attack in Quneitra, in what the Israeli army said was retaliation for anti-aircraft fire targeting one of its fighter jets.

Syrian air defence batteries intercepted projectiles coming from Israel and downed a number of them on May 17, according to SANA.

The Syrian province of Quneitra includes the Golan Heights, most of which is occupied and annexed by Israel.

In January, Israel hit Iranian positions in Syria, saying it was in response to an Iranian missile strike from the war-torn country. According to the Observatory, 21 people, mainly Iranians, were killed in these raids.

The latest reported strike comes amid soaring tensions in the region between Iran and the United States.

The stand-off had been simmering since the United States last year withdrew from the 2015 nuclear treaty which Iran reached with major world powers.

In recent weeks the US accused Iran of alleged threats and deployed an aircraft carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf.