BEIRUT: A false alarm set off Syrian air defense systems early on Tuesday, the military said, denying earlier reports of an “outside aggression” and incoming airstrikes and underscoring the chaotic nature of the multiple actors in Syria’s theater of war.
Syrian state media reported hours earlier that the country confronted yet another assault, shooting down missiles over the central region of Homs and a suburb of Damascus before dawn.
State television did not mention three missiles that were fired at Dumair military airport, northeast of Damascus, that pro-Iranian Hezbollah’s media service reported were intercepted by Syrian air defenses.
The reports did not say who carried out the alleged strikes, adding to Mideast jitters only days after the United States, Britain and France conducted airstrikes targeting Syria’s alleged chemical weapons facilities in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that they blamed on the Syrian government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights, which follows the war through a network of activists on the ground, reported the sound of explosions and lightning-like flashes in the skies over Homs and near Damascus, without saying what it was.
The government-run Syrian Central Media said six missiles targeted the Shayrat air base in Homs on Tuesday, adding that Syrian air defenses shot down most of them. The Syrian outlet also reported another, separate airstrike on the Dumayr air base, in a suburb of the capital, Damascus.
The Pentagon denied any American military activity in the area. There was no comment from Israel, which frequently carries out airstrikes in Syria but rarely acknowledges them.
Only hours later, Syrian TV carried a military statement saying that air defenses fired a number of missiles because of a “false alarm,” without providing more information.