Israeli jets fly over Beirut, explosions reported in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) - Israeli jets flew very low over parts of Lebanon early Friday, terrifying residents on Christmas Eve, some of whom reported seeing missiles in the sky over Beirut.
Minutes later, Syria's official news agency reported explosions in the central Syrian city of Masyaf. Other Syrian media said Syrian air defense responded to an Israeli attack near the city in Hama province.
The Syrian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying Israel had "launched aggression by directing rocket fire" from north of the Lebanese city of Tripoli towards the Masyaf area. Syrian air defense “confronted the enemy missiles and intercepted most of them”.
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There was no immediate word about what the goal was or whether there were sacrifices.
Israeli jets regularly violate Lebanese airspace and have often hit Syria from Lebanese territory. But the Christmas Eve flights were louder than usual, terrifying residents of Beirut, who had suffered multiple crises over the past year, including the catastrophic August 4 explosion in the city's port that killed over 200 people and destroyed parts of the capital. This explosion resulted from the detonation of a supply of ammonium nitrates that was not properly stored at the facility.
There was no direct word from Israel on Friday's flights and the alleged attacks on Syria.
In recent years, Israel has confirmed the conduct of dozen of air strikes in Syria, most of which targeted suspected Iranian arms shipments believed to be destined for Hezbollah. In recent months, Israeli officials have raised concerns that Hezbollah is attempting to set up manufacturing facilities for precision guided missiles.
Masyaf is a significant military area for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, which includes a military academy and a scientific research center. Israel has hit targets there several times in the past.
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