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Israel fires down incoming "target" from Syria

The drone, most likely Russian, safely returned to Syria after two Patriot missiles and a warplane failed to intercept it. It said "Israeli aggression" had caused explosions and some material losses, but did not expand on the damage.

"Huge fireball" -Earlier, Damascus ally Hezbollah said the blast was "probably" the result of an Israeli air strike.

Peskov did not confirm if Israel had warned Moscow of the strike, saying only that the two nations' "defence ministries are in constant dialogue". However, in an interview with Army Radio, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz indicated that there could have been Israeli involvement.

"When we receive serious information about the intention to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, we will act". The report blamed Israel for the missile strike.

The Syrian military said the attack, which could be felt at least nine miles away, was carried out by Israel and aimed to "raise the morale of terrorist groups" which the government maintains are waging war against President Bashar Assad's forces. It said there no casualties. If this ends up being accurate, and the facility directly supports Assad's war fighting efforts, its destruction could enrage the regime far more than the destruction of the far more discreet shipments that Israel has struck in the past.

Al-Manar is affiliated with Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government. It went to war with Hezbollah in 2006 and the group has grown considerably more powerful since then.

A resident of the Dawwar al-Baytara neighbourhood in the southeast of the capital, who lives in a tower block that looks towards the airport area, said he had seen an vast fireball.

The widely followed Diaries of a Mortar Facebook page, which is run by activists in Damascus, reported several explosions at 3:42 a.m. that could be heard and felt across the capital.

Russian Federation and Israel were in constant contact about the situation in Syria through various channels, said Peskov.

Thursday's attack comes after Russia, Iran and other pro-government allied forces had vowed to respond forcefully to any "aggression ... by anyone" in the wake of a USA cruise missile strike on Syria earlier this month.

Israel regards Hezbollah, and its key backer Iran, as its biggest threat.

According to Syrian military defectors, the airport targeted by the strikes plays a major role as a conduit for arms from Iran.

Israeli officials have estimated that Iran commands around 25,000 fighters in Syria, including members of its own Revolutionary Guard, Shi'ite militants from Iraq and recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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