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Israel says strikes Syrian anti-aircraft battery in response to fire

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Jerusalem (AFP)

Israel's military said Monday it carried out an air strike on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria east of Damascus after it fired toward its planes.

Israeli planes were on what the military described as a routine reconnaissance mission over neighbouring Lebanon when an anti-aircraft missile was fired in their direction, a military spokesman said.

The planes returned safely, according to the spokesman, adding it was believed the anti-aircraft battery in Syria was destroyed.

"We hold the Syrian regime responsible for the anti-aircraft fire and any attack originating from Syria," Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told journalists.

Israel's military said it had no intention to escalate the situation further.

Israel has sought to avoid becoming more directly involved in the six-year civil war in neighbouring Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Shiite group is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the conflict.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating war in 2006.

Monday's strike comes with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu due to visit Israel later in the day. Russia is also backing Assad in the Syrian conflict.

Russia and Israel have established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.

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