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Jan 31 (Reuters) - Syrian air defences intercepted an Israeli missile barrage targeting the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, Syrian state media said early on Monday, citing a military source.

The source was quoted as saying unspecified material damage was caused by the missiles being intercepted.

Two Syrian military defectors said the strikes targeted rugged areas northeast of Damascus near the town of Qutayfah where the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah group has a significant military presence and a weapons depot.

The Israeli military declined comment.

Israel has stepped up attacks in the last few years on what it has described as Iranian-linked targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces led by Hezbollah have established a growing presence since deploying to help President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict that began in 2011.

Syria denies that thousands of Iranian-backed fighters have bases across the country. It says Tehran, which has significantly stepped up military support to Assad over the course of the war, has advisors on the ground who help rebuild its army.

Source: Reuters

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