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Syrian air defences intercept Israel attack above Damascus -state media

Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hold his portrait in 2019 (Credit: EPA-EFE / Andre Pain)

AMMAN, July 20 (Reuters) - Syrian air defences on Monday intercepted a new Israeli "aggression" above the capital Damascus, state media said, in the latest wave of attacks that Western intelligence sources have said were Israeli strikes on Iranian-backed targets in Syria.

State television said Israeli missiles had flown over the Syrian Golan Heights where they conducted raids around the capital and live footage showed blasts across the skies of the capital.

The bases in eastern, central and southern Syria which Israel had hit in recent months are believed to have a strong presence of Iranian-backed militias, according to intelligence sources and military defectors familiar with the locations.

Syria never publicly acknowledges that the strikes target Iranian assets in a country where Tehran’s military presence has covered most government-controlled areas.

Western intelligence sources say Israel’s strikes on Syria are part of a shadow war approved by Washington and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.

Israel has acknowledged conducting many raids inside Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.

Israeli defence officials have said in recent months Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria where, with the help of its proxy militias, Tehran has expanded its presence. (Reporting by Samar Hassan and Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)

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