DAMASCUS, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- At least 11 military personnel were killed in the overnight wide-scale Israeli missile attacks on military positions in Syria, a war monitor reported on Monday.
Four of the soldiers were Syrians while the rest of casualties are unknown whether they were Iranians or fighters with the Lebanese Hezbollah group, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based watchdog group said the attacks targeted the vicinity of the international airport of Damascus, the Jumraia area, Kisweh and the vicinity of the al-Thaleh air base in the southern province of Sweida.
The attacks led to the destruction of weapon depots among others, said the observatory, which says it relies on a network of activists on the ground.
Before daybreak Monday, the Syrian Army said the Syrian air defenses responded to heavy Israeli strikes, destroying most of the missiles before they reached their targets.
The Israeli attacks were carried out from inside the Lebanese airspace and the Israeli-controlled territories in the Galilee, the state TV said, citing a Syrian military source.
The Syrian air defenses immediately dealt with the situation and intercepted most of the missiles, destroying "tens of enemy targets," according to the state TV.
Xinhua reporters in Damascus saw the Syrian air defense missiles chasing targets in the sky over the capital coupled with sounds of explosions. The missile strikes lasted for more than an hour.
The Israeli military said in a statement early Monday that it has started striking Iranian targets inside Syria and warned Syrian forces not to harm Israeli territories or forces.
It was the second Israeli strike to target areas around the capital within 24 hours. On Sunday morning, the Israelis fired missiles at Syrian positions, with the official media saying the attack was foiled by air defenses.
The attack is also the latest in a string of Israeli missile strikes targeting military bases in Syria. On Jan. 11, Israel carried out missile strikes on military bases around Damascus. On Dec. 25, it fired missiles at military depots in the western countryside of Damascus.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly denounced the Israeli attacks on Syria as aiming at prolonging the war in the country which has lasted for more than seven years.
Israel, however, often claimed it was to target positions of Iranian-backed fighters in Syria, mainly of the Lebanese Hezbollah group.