Israeli jets bombed targets near Damascus, southern Syria: monitor

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On Thursday, AFP news agency said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitor, reported that Israel bombed several targets near Damascus.

Citing military sources, Syrian television said its air force had "successfully repelled enemy targets", but did not specifically identify the enemy or the targets.

RIA Novosti apologized Friday morning for its story, which was based on the Syrian government's news agency SANA's report according to which Syrian "air defenses intercepted hostile targets over al-Kiswah region and downed them".

Some social media accounts close to the Assad regime claimed that an Israeli fighter jet had been downed.

Israel has reportedly carried out airstrikes in Southern Syria targeting Iranian militias, in its first publicised strike since September.

The Astana process by Russia, Iran and Turkey to end the Syrian conflict has only led to a "stalemate" in efforts to establish a constitutional committee crucial to a political settlement, the United States said on Thursday.

The accidental downing of a Russian transport aircraft by Syrian ground batteries during an Israel air strike on September 17 killed 15 service personnel.

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Two missiles hit "weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah [militant group] as well as Iranian forces" in Kisweh.

That incident created tensions between Israel and Russian Federation, another Syrian government ally, with Moscow saying it reserved "the right to take commensurate measures in response".

Following an incident in October where Syria downed a Russian plane during an Israeli air strike in Syria, Moscow provided Damascus with an advanced S-300 missile defense system.

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Russian Federation his country would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border.

Separately, UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura expressed his regrets about a "missed opportunity" to help end the country's long conflict at talks held in the Kazakh capital of Astana.

Moscow and Tehran, allies of the Damascus regime, began the Astana process in January 2017 along with rebel-backer Turkey. Hezbollah is an ally of Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She added that "success is not possible without the worldwide community holding Damascus fully accountable for the lack of progress in resolving the conflict".

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