Israeli jets on Thursday bombed several areas near Damascus as well as in southern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. "Israeli forces bombarded for an hour positions in the southern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus as well as in the south of Syria at the border of Quneitra province," the Observatory's chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. Earlier, Syrian state media said air defences downed a number of "hostile targets" close to the capital. "Our air defences fired on hostile targets over the Kisweh area and downed them," the official SANA news agency reported, citing a military source. The area south of Damascus has been targeted by alleged Israeli strikes in the past, which a monitor said have killed members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards force and other pro-Iranian Shiite militias. Abdel Rahman said there are "weapons depots belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah (group) as well as Iranian forces" in Kisweh. Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in neighbouring Syria against what it says are Iranian targets.
Syrian air defences in September opened fire to intercept alleged Israeli missiles targeting ammunition depots in the northwestern province of Latakia, but instead downed a Russian jet. Abdel Rahman said Thursday was the first time Syria's air defences had been called into action since the incident on September 17 in which 15 Russians were killed. Moscow pinned responsibility for the downing of its jet on Israel, saying its plane used the larger Russian one for cover, an allegation Israel disputed. Following the incident, Russia sent advanced air defence missiles to Damascus. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia his country would continue to hit hostile targets in Syria to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence across the border. He added that Israel would "continue security coordination" with Russia.