The Syrian government denied that explosions on Sunday night at the Mazzeh military airport west of Damascus were an Israeli air strike. The airport is believed to house Syrian Air Force intelligence as well as embassies, security buildings and the homes of some members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle.
Rami Abdel Rahmane, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP news that the explosions were caused by a “possible Israeli missile, which hit a munitions store setting off successive explosions.”
Al-Meyadeen, a Lebanese news outlet, also reported that the explosions were the result of five Israeli missiles hitting the base.
Syria’s official SANA news outlet denied that the explosions were the result of an Israeli attack, claiming instead that the blasts were the result of a technical problem.
“The explosions heard were due to an explosion at a munitions deposit close to the airport which was due to an electrical short circuit,” a Syrian military source told SANA news.
A prior report cited a Syrian official as saying that the base was targeted by a missile strike claiming the missiles had been intercepted by Syria’s air defense systems.
Israel has been accused by Syria of targeting the base in Mazzeh twice before: in 2016 and again in January 2017.
This incident comes as satellite images revealed a probable Iranian factory for building ballistic missiles in Syria.
It also comes as US special representative to Syria James Jeffrey and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at State Department Joel Rayburn, are in Israel to discuss the situation in Syria with the intention of removing Iran’s presence.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a public statement that Israel would continue taking action against Iran in Syria, and would not be affected by a defense cooperation agreement signed between Syria and Iran.