202

The Latest: Israel announces attacks on Iran forces in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

2:20 a.m.

In a very unusual move, the Israeli military has issued a statement saying it is attacking Iranian military targets in Syria. It is also warning Syrian authorities not to retaliate against Israel.

The army issued the statement early Monday, hours after Israel carried out a rare daylight air raid near the Damascus international airport.

Until now Israel has largely refrained from public admissions of military operations in neighboring Syria.

The Israeli military says in the statement that it was “striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory” and warned the Syrian military “against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”

On Sunday, Israeli missile defense batteries intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights following the strike near the Damascus airport.

___

1:45 p.m.

A Syrian war monitoring group says a blast aboard a bus in the northern Syrian town of Afrin has killed at least three people.

The attack came on the anniversary of a Turkish military operation that evicted Kurdish fighters from the town.

The town now is under the control of Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says three people were killed and nine wounded in the explosion.

The Syrian Civil Defense, an opposition-linked group known as the White Helmets, says the blast left “martyrs” and that others were wounded and rushed to hospitals.

___

1:40 p.m.

Syrian state media is reporting that air defenses have repelled an Israeli airstrike south of the capital, Damascus.

State TV says the air defenses “prevented” the attack from achieving its goals.

Damascus residents say they heard five explosions on Sunday, apparently the sound of air defenses firing into the air.

Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon’s airspace recently to strike deep inside Syria, including on a warehouse near Damascus International Airport, according to Syrian state media. Israel rarely comments on such reports.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Israel has struck hundreds of Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria, including a weapons facility two weeks ago.

___

8:45 a.m.

Syrian state TV is reporting an explosion in a southern neighborhood of the capital, Damascus.

It says the Sunday morning blast, which happened during rush hour on the first working day of the week, appears to have been “a terrorist act.”

There was no immediate word on casualties in the southern neighborhood of Qazaz, near a main highway leading into central Damascus.

State media say all roads leading to the scene of the blast have been closed.

Explosions have been rare in Damascus since Syrian government forces captured the last rebel-held neighborhoods and suburbs of the capital last year.

Such blasts had left hundreds dead over the course of the nearly eight-year civil war.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.