Israel hits Syrian defence batteries after missile falls near Negev nuclear site

Syrian missile landed near Israel's secretive nuclear site

FILE - This file image made from a video aired Friday, Jan. 7, 2005, by Israeli television station Channel 10, shows what the television station claims is Israel's top secret nuclear facility in the southern Israeli town of Dimona, the first detailed video of the site ever shown to the public. The Israeli military said that a missile was fired into Israel from neighboring Syria early Thursday, April 22, 2021, and that it has struck targets in Syria in response. Earlier, air raid sirens sounded in Dimona, the Negev town that is home to Israel's secretive nuclear reactor, indicating a possible incoming attack. (Channel 10 via AP, File)
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Israeli forces struck several Syrian defence batteries in the early hours of Thursday morning after a stray surface-to-air missile landed in Israel's Negev desert, sparking alarm.

The errant rocket landed near Israel’s secretive nuclear site in the country’s south.

"A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria to Israel's southern Negev," the Israel military said.

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

An initial investigation of the incident indicated that no actual interception occurred, the Israeli army said in a statement issued later.

"The missile that was fired exploded in mid air and its parts fell in the Negev region. The incident is still being reviewed," the statement said.

Syrian state media outlet Sana said the Israeli fire came from the Golan Heights and was aimed "towards positions in the vicinity of Damascus" in the early hours of Thursday.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Israeli missiles hit the air defence base of the Syrian government in the town of Dmeir – about 40 kilometres north-east of Damascus.

The strikes destroyed air defence batteries, the Observatory said, with some casualties.

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

Sana said Syrian air defence batteries successfully intercepted most of the missiles.

Construction at Israel's secretive nuclear site – in pictures 

Quoting a military source, the news outlet said four soldiers were wounded and there were "some material losses".

While there were no immediate reports of any Israeli wounded or physical damage, sirens sounded near Abu Qrenat village, in the vicinity of the Dimona nuclear site in the Negev.

Israel has never disclosed its atomic arsenal, but foreign experts say it state has between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads.

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

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

While the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, it rarely publicly acknowledges them.

The latest missile launch comes as tensions run high between Israel and Iran with Tehran promising revenge after the sabotage of its Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

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

Israel did not claim responsibility for the incident, but unsourced media reports in the country attributed it to the Israeli security services carrying out a "cyber operation".

The New York Times, quoting unnamed US and Israeli intelligence officials, said there had been "an Israeli role" in the attack.