Israel fires rocket at Syria, killing one soldier

Israel says it attacked a Syrian anti-aircraft base that fired at one of its military planes

This frame grab from a video provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA shows missiles flying into the sky near Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon fired missiles toward areas near the Syrian capital of Damascus late Tuesday, hitting an arms depot and wounding three soldiers, Syrian state media reported, saying that most of the missiles were shot down by air defense units. (SANA via AP)
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Syria says a soldier was killed in an overnight Israeli attack against a military post in the country’s south after a rare admission by Tel Aviv that it carried out strikes.

Israel said that it was responding to anti-aircraft fire against one of its combat planes – the country does not usually comment on the hundreds of strikes it has carried out across Syria in recent years.

The statements from Damascus and Tel Aviv come amid heightened regional tension over Iran's role in Syria and across the Middle East. It also follows a number of reported Israeli strikes on Syria in the past ten days, according to state run media.

Syrian state TV Al Ekhbariya quoted a military official as saying that the Israeli attack came shortly after 9pm local time and targeted a military outpost east of Khan Arnabeh, a town in Quneitra, on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

An earlier statement released via state media said one military vehicle was damaged when a rocket landed in Tal Al Shaar in Quneitra.

The Israeli army said that a Syrian anti-aircraft system fired at one of its aircraft "as it was carrying out a routine flight in Israel".

"The projectile landed in Syrian territory. In response, we targeted the Syrian launcher that was responsible for firing it," the statement said.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said shortly afterwards that the Syrian army "tried to harm an Israeli plane, it didn't succeed".

"Our policy is clear – we are not prepared to tolerate any aggression against us, we will retaliate against it forcefully and decisively," he said.

Syrian media reported two incidents earlier this month in which Israeli strikes hit southern Syria.

Last year, anti-aircraft fire brought down an Israeli jet returning from an air raid in Syria, prompting a wave of Israeli strikes against other targets there.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in recent years to curtail the influence of its arch-foe Iran and Tehran's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, who are fighting on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's war.