Israel strikes targets in Syria after missiles land near nuclear reactor

A Syrian surface-to-air missile exploded in southern Israel on Thursday, the Israeli military said, in an incident that triggered warning sirens in an area near the secret nuclear reactor Dimona.

“A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria into Israel’s southern Negev,” the Israeli military said. “In response, we struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional surface-to-air batteries in Syria.”

BREAKING: A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria into Israel’s southern Negev.

In response, we struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional air-to-air batteries in Syria.

– Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) April 22, 2021

Syrian state media Sana said the Israeli fire came from the Golan Heights and was aimed “at positions near Damascus” on Thursday morning.

According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Israeli missiles hit the Syrian government’s air defense base in the city of Dmeir – about 40 kilometers northeast of Damascus.

The strikes destroyed the air force’s batteries, the observatory said, with some fatalities.

The Dmeir area is believed to be home to weapons depots belonging to militias loyal to Iran, it added.

Sana said that Syrian air defense batteries managed to capture most of the missiles.

The news center quoted a military source as saying that four soldiers were wounded and that there were “some material losses”.

Nuclear facilities

Although there were no immediate reports of any Israeli wounded or physically injured, sirens sounded near the village of Abu Qrenat, near the Dimona nuclear power plant.

Israel has never revealed its nuclear arsenal, but foreign experts say the Jewish state has between 100 and 300 nuclear weapons.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out raids in Syria, mainly targeting Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces as well as government forces.

Israel has long sought to prevent bitter enemy Iran from establishing itself in the war-torn nation.

And while the IDF has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, it has rarely acknowledged them publicly.

The latest missile launch comes as tensions rise between Israel and Iran with Tehran promising “revenge” following the sabotage of its enrichment plant in Natanz.

Iran said it believed Israel was behind the incident – when a small explosion hit the plant’s electricity distribution earlier this month.

Israel did not claim responsibility for the incident, but independent media reports in the country attributed it to the Israeli security services conducting a “cyber operation”.

The New York Times, which quoted named US and Israeli intelligence officials, also said there had been “an Israeli role” in the attack.

(AFP)