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‘Wide-scale’ Israeli strikes hit targets in Syria

Damages inside a house in Damascus, Syria in this handout released by SANA Nov. 20, 2019.
Damages inside a house in Damascus, Syria in this handout released by SANA Nov. 20, 2019. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

Israeli warplanes carried out a "wide-scale" attack against Iranian forces and Syrian army targets in Syria, the Israeli military revealed Wednesday. The strikes killed at least 11 fighters, including seven foreigners, according to a British-based monitoring group. 

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In a rare confirmation of their operations in Syria, the Israeli army said it had carried out dozens of strikes against the Iranian elite Quds Force and the Syrian military, in response to four rockets fired at Israel a day before.

At least 11 "fighters" were killed in the strikes, said Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Seven were foreigners, the group's head, Rami Abdel Rahman said, though he could not confirm whether they were all Iranian. Four civilians were also wounded, he added.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it carried out “wide-scale strikes” on Quds and Syrian armed forces in response to “rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria last night”.

On Tuesday, four rockets were fired at Israel from Syria, with the army blaming an "Iranian force".

Syria's state news agency SANA said Syrian anti-aircraft defences responded to a "heavy attack" by Israeli warplanes over the capital.

The Israeli army confirmed missiles were fired towards its jets but denied any were hit.

In a Twitter post, the IDF noted that, “During our strike of Iranian & Syrian terror targets, a Syrian air defense missile was fired despite clear warnings to refrain from such fire. As a result, a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed.”
 



Iran has fought alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the country's eight-year civil war, heightening Israeli concern over the presence of its arch foe along its border.

"Whoever hurts us, we will hurt him," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

"This is what we did overnight vis-a-vis military targets of the Iranian Quds Force and Syrian military targets in Syria after a barrage of rockets was launched at Israel."

Airport control facility hit

The Israeli army said it had targeted about a dozen military sites, including warehouses and military command centres.

The most important target was a control facility at the main international airport in Damascus, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told AFP.

"It is the main building that serves the (Iranian) Revolutionary Guards... for coordinating the logistic facilities of transport of military hardware from Iran to Syria and from Syria onwards," he said.

Syrian civil war complicates volatile situation

Israel has carried out frequent air and missile strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria since the country descended into civil war in 2011, but rarely comments on them.

Tuesday’s rocket attacks into Israel were intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome missile defence system.

Conricus said it was the sixth time Iranian forces had attacked Israel directly in recent years, most recently in August.

Syria's civil war has been complicated by the involvement of multiple foreign powers, with Russian, Iranian and US forces on the ground backing various parties.

Russia, which has backed Assad's regime militarily, condemned the Israeli attack.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was quoted by TASS news agency as saying the operation "totally contradicts international law".

"We are going to examine the circumstances, all this is very bad," he added.

Flare-up

The SOHR monitoring group said Tuesday's rockets were fired from positions around the Syrian capital held by groups loyal to the Damascus government.

The flare-up follows a major escalation in and around Gaza last week when Israel killed a top commander of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which is allied with Damascus.

The killing was accompanied by a second strike, unconfirmed by Israel, on an Islamic Jihad leader in Damascus that killed his son and another person.

The hundreds of strikes Israel has carried out in Syria have mostly been against Iranian targets or positions of Iran's Lebanese ally, Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Both are sworn enemies of the Jewish state and have backed the Syrian president's forces with advisers and fighters.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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