Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles - state media

CAIRO (Reuters) - Syrian air defences intercepted Israeli missiles over the capital Damascus early on Thursday that were fired at military targets in southern Syria including near the capital Damascus, the defence ministry said.

The attacks by Israeli jets were launched over the Golan Heights and Lebanese air space in two waves, one near Damascus and another near the Deraa and Quneitra provinces, said a ministry statement carried by state media.

It said Syrian air defences downed a large number of missiles but that the attack had caused material damage and injured eight "fighters", without specifying their nationality.

The Israeli military declined to comment.

Israel has repeatedly bombed Iranian-backed militia targets in Syria, saying its goal was to end Tehran’s military presence there, which Western intelligence sources say has expanded in recent years.

Last month, the Syrian army said Israeli jets attacked the main T4 air base in Homs province. In December, it said the air defence system intercepted missiles fired from the direction of Israel aimed at targets on the outskirts Damascus.

(Reporting by Samar Hassan in Cairo, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Kinda Makieh in Damascus and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and John Stonestreet)