Syrian air defense were activated late on Monday to engage ‘hostile targets’ above Palmyra and Homs, the local media reported, calling the incident an act of ‘Israeli aggression.’
Several enemy missiles have been shot down, the state news agency SANA reported. Witnesses spoke of multiple explosions heard in the Palmyra area in central Syria.
Anna Ahronheim, military correspondent for the Jerusalem Post newspaper, tweeted that the attack was targeting the Syrian T-4 airbase in the Homs province.T-4, also known as Althias, is about halfway between the city of Homs and Palmyra.
Ahronheim noted that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier in the day that the threat of Iran did not disappear during the coronavirus pandemic and that Israel was “now working more carefully than ever maintaining our security competence, even if our soldiers are busy with other things.”
Syrian media are blaming the Israeli Defense Force for the strike. Israel has been frequently carrying out air raids against the Syrian military facilities, saying that they’re aimed curbing Iran’s military presence in the country. Such strikes usually involve Israeli jets firing missiles into Syria from Lebanese airspace.
The IDF has recently faced harsh criticism for endangering lives by using civilian aircraft as human shields during those attacks. The tactic proved fatal in September 2018, when Syrian air defenses targeting an Israeli F-16 struck a Russian scouting plane instead, killing all 14 on board.
After initially denying having anything to do with the incident, Netanyahu later traveled to Moscow with an apology.
Palmyra was one of the wealthiest settlements in the Roman Empire during the antiquity and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Syrian war was rough on the city, which changed hands four times during the conflict. It wasn’t until 2017 that troops loyal to the government in Damascus, helped by the Russian expeditionary air group, finally liberated Palmyra. By then, many of its architectural marvels had been destroyed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists.
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