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By Jack Phillips

Syrian air defense systems were triggered on Tuesday following an aerial strike on a military base in Homs, Syrian state media said.

According to the state-run SANA agency, “Army air defenses confronted aggression on T4 airport in Homs eastern countryside.”

It added there were “reports that say the aggression was perpetrated by drones and missiles” and “some of them were downed.” The state-run news outlet blamed Israel for the incident.

“The army air defenses immediately intercepted the hostile missiles and shot down a number of them, meanwhile, 4 missiles reached the targeted area and the damages were limited to materials,” a military source said via the state news outlet.

Syrian media has claimed that the T4 base has been targeted by the Israeli Air Force in the past. According to Haaretz, the base is home to Syrian regime forces, as well as an Iranian Revolutionary Guards grouping with Russian air forces.

The incident comes about a week after unidentified aircraft struck targets in Syria near the border with Iraq on Friday, killing eight Iran-backed Iraqi militiamen. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed the attack was carried out by “unknown drones” that targeted vehicles and armories.

“Unidentified aircraft targeted vehicles and arms depots in the Albu Kamal area, causing a large explosion. At least eight Iraqi Hashed fighters were killed,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported the Times of Israel. He was referring to Iraq’s Iran-backed Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Force) militia.

The attacks follow escalating tensions in the Middle East after the United States killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who headed the Iran Revolutionary Guards Quds Force. Iran then fired a barrage of missiles at American soldiers in Iraqi bases. What’s more, several Iraqi bases have been targeted by rocket attacks by unknown assailants this week.

Iran and Syria are close strategic allies, and Tehran has given significant military support to Damascus in the decade-long Syrian Civil War. A number of Iran-backed Iraqi militia groups are active inside Syria.

And last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a rare visit to Syria and spoke with President Bashar Assad in Damascus. The two didn’t mention the airstrike that killed Soleimani, but Putin praised the Assad regime.

“The situation didn’t just change—in fact, we’re witnessing the restoration of Syria’s statehood, Syria as a state, the country’s territorial integrity,” Putin said, reported The Associated Press.

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