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Syria's accuses Israel of launching missiles at Damascus outposts in wave pre-dawn attacks

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Syria's military has accused Israel of launching missiles at its outposts near Damascus in a wave of three pre-dawn attacks, and claimed the Syrian air force hit one of the Israeli jets and shot down several missiles.

The army said the Syrian air defence confronted the attacks on military outposts in the area of Qutayfeh in the Damascus countryside.

Several missiles were launched from Lebanese air space at 2.40am, followed by two ground-to-ground missiles at 3.04am launched from the occupied Golan Heights, and four missiles at 4.14am, launched from the Tiberias area, or the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, the Syrian statement said.

The Syrian army said the attacks caused material damage.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the matter.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to ambassadors of Nato countries in Israel, said: "We have a long-standing policy to prevent the transfer of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah from Syrian territory.

"This policy has not changed, we back it up as necessary with action."

Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes inside Syria in the course of Syria's civil war, against what it says are suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces.

Tuesday's strike was the first this year.

The Syrian army statement described the attack as "flagrant Israeli aggression" and renewed its warnings on the repercussions of such attacks, holding Israel "fully responsibility for its consequences".

Some Syrian opposition-affiliated media reported that the Israeli planes targeted a Syrian army depot while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the depots belonged to Hezbollah and the Syrian army, adding that the strikes caused a series of explosions and a fire as well as serious material damage.

The Observatory, which monitors the war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said there was no immediate word on casualties.

The exact target could not be independently confirmed.

Qutayfeh is in the north-eastern suburbs of Damascus where Syrian Republican Guard units are known to have major outposts.

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