The Syrian News Agency confirmed a number of large explosions in capital Damascus. In a statement posted on Twitter the Israeli Defence Forces commented: “We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”

This marks the first time Israel has confirmed in real time it is targeting Iranian forces in Syria.

According to Israel’s Channel 13 the Syrian military fired dozens of missiles at Israeli warplanes near Damascus.

The Israeli strike followed the launch of a missile towards Israel from Syria earlier on Sunday.

The missile was successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.

Syria’s state run news agency SANA claimed the country’s military had shot down several “hostile targets”, though there is no independent confirmation.

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Fearing further violence the Israeli military announced the closure of the Mount Hermon ski resort, in the north of the country, on Monday.

Speaking earlier on Monday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly implied the strikes were targeted at Iranian forces.

He commented: “We have a permanent policy to hurt the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and everyone who is trying to hurt us.

“This policy doesn’t change, whether I am in Israel or on a historic visit in Chad.”

According to Syrian media reports the strikes hit Damascus International Airport and al-Kiswah, a town south of Damascus.

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Israel has previously claimed pro-Iranian militia were operating from bases near al-Kiswah.

Both sites have been hit by Israeli bombing before.

Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years, many targeting forces from Iran or Lebanese militant group Hizbollah which have increased their presence in the country.

Liz Sly, a Washington Post reporter covering Syria, said: “Israel announces that it is bombing Syria. This is rare.

“Usually it declines to confirm or deny, after the event.”

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