Rocket warning sirens sound in northern Israel

Rocket warning sirens sounded in several communities in northern Israel early Tuesday morning.

The IDF said warnings went off in the Western Galilee region and it was investigating if rockets had been fired or if it was a false alarm.

The sirens came some four hours after Syrian state media said Israeli aircraft launched a number of missiles at targets near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Syria rarely retaliates for Israeli strikes, but has in the past accidentally fired anti-aircraft missiles into Israel while trying to shoot down Israeli jets and missiles. However, the time that elapsed between the reported strikes and the warning made that scenario unlikely.

Earlier, the official SANA news agency said that Syrian air defenses repelled the strikes near the town of al-Safirah, southeast of Aleppo. Syrian war analysts generally dismiss the military’s regular claims of interceptions as false, empty boasts.

There were no immediate reports of casualties and damage.

Explosions seen near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on July 19, 2021 following a reported Israeli airstrike (Screencapture/Twitter)

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has activists on the ground in Syria, said the Israeli strikes targeted weapons depots that belong to Iranian-backed militia operating the area. The group said the strikes were followed by loud explosions. The weapons depots were located inside Syrian military posts, the group said.

Video posted to social media showed a series of explosions in the area, while a video posted by SANA appeared to show a missile moving through the sky as anti-aircraft fire was directed at it.

The Israel Defense Forces did not comment on the reported strikes, in accordance with its long-standing policy to neither confirm nor deny its activities in Syria.

Aleppo is a major city in northern Syria, near its border with Turkey, and is an uncommon — but not unprecedented — site for reported Israeli airstrikes. The last reported Israeli strikes in the area were in September 2020.

The IDF has launched hundreds of strikes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011 against moves by Iran to establish a permanent military presence in the country and efforts to transport advanced, game-changing weapons to terrorist groups in the region, principally Hezbollah.

The pace of attacks has slowed considerably in recent months.

The is the first reported Israeli strike on Syria since early June, when strikes targeted air force positions near the village of Khirbet al-Tin on the outskirts of Homs, as well as an arms depot belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group.

The Israeli air force also hit targets in several regions of Syria, in the capital Damascus as well as in Hama and Latakia provinces. Eleven Syrian military members were reported killed in those strikes.

AP contributed to this report

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