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Netanyahu confirms air strikes on Iranian targets in Syria

Jack Guez, AFP | An F-16 Block 52 fighter jet, belonging to the Polish air force, takes off during the 'Blue Flag' multinational air defence exercise at the Ovda air force base, north of the Israeli city of Eilat, on November 8, 2017.

Israel acknowledged on Sunday that it carried out a weekend air strike on what it called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.

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Long wary of publicity around its operations against Iran-linked targets on its northern front, Israel has been lifting the veil in recent days - a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tension with Syria's big-power backer, Russia.

"We have been taking action with impressive success to arrest Iran's military entrenchment in Syria," Netanyahu told his cabinet in televised remarks, saying this entailed "hundreds" of attacks over the past several years of Syria's civil war, in which Iranian and Hezbollah forces have backed the Damascus government against rebels and Islamist insurgents.

"In just the last 36 hours, the air force struck Iran's warehouses, containing Iranian arms, in Damascus international airport," he added, referring to a Friday night sortie that Syria said it had answered with anti-aircraft fire.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also be playing up his security credentials as he seeks re-election on April 9.

The strike Netanyahu was referring to occurred on Friday night.

Syrian state news agency SANA cited a military source saying on Friday that Syrian air defences had shot down Israeli missiles, but a warehouse had been hit.

Most of the missiles fired by "Israeli military planes" were intercepted at around 11:00pm (2100 GMT), the source said.

"Only a ministry of transport warehouse at Damascus international airport was hit," SANA cited the military source as saying.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said "two areas hosting military positions of Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement have been targeted".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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