Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Report: Israel Strikes Target in Syria ... Again

Media in both countries are reporting that Damascus Airport was hit by Israeli planes.
Khaled al-Hariri / Reuters

Over the course of Syria’s four-and-a-half-year-old civil war, Israel has quietly been drawn in at times. It occasionally treats wounded Syrians in its hospitals and, according to reports, occasionally bombs weapon conveys or retaliates for cross-border fire.
On Wednesday night, Israel reportedly launched another strike against targets at or near the airport in the Syrian capital, Damascus, which is under the control of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Opposition media outlets [in Syria] reported that explosions were heard at the airport, followed by a power outage and the temporary grounding of aircraft,” the Israeli paper Ynet reported, noting a Facebook page associated with the Assad regime also claimed an attack has taken place. Notably, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington, D.C., where he was having a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
As The Times of Israel notes, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on Wednesday’s report, which is in line with its policy. In the past, Israel has said it would act to ensure sophisticated weapons don’t reach Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militant group that has been active in Syria. Less than two weeks ago, Israeli airstrikes were said to hit assets belonging to the Assad regime and Hezbollah, which Israel and the U.S. regard as a terrorist organization.
What is potentially different about recent Israeli attacks has to do with the new involvement of Russian forces, which are now engaging on the ground and in the air in Syria. In a meeting this fall, Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to a deconfliction mechanism, which would work to make sure the two parties didn’t attack each other.
However, as Moscow further entrenches with the Assad regime and Iran, both of which are enemies of the Jewish state, it gets more difficult to imagine that future Israeli strikes will not prompt a response from one of the many parties involved in the Syrian conflict.

Israel hits Syrian army on Golan after 'errant' cross-border fire
Israeli soldiers demarcate an area as they stand near armoured personnel carriers (APCs) during an exercise in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, August 21, 2015.
Israel struck Syrian army targets on the Golan Heights on Sunday, sources on both sides said, and Israel said it was retaliating for cross-border rocket fire from the Syrian war next door.
Rebel sources in southern Syria and a British-based monitoring group said at least three Israeli air strikes had hit army sites near the frontier with the Israeli-occupied part of the strategic plateau.
Israel's army confirmed it had targeted two Syrian army posts, but said it used artillery fire, not air strikes, in response to "errant" rockets from inside Syria landing on its territory.
Fighting between government forces and rebels in the Quneitra area of the Syrian Golan Heights has intensified in recent days.
It was the first Israeli fire on southern Syria in more than a month. Israel has attacked Syrian armed forces and arch-foe Lebanese Hezbollah, a Damascus ally, during the four-year-old civil war in its hostile neighbor.
Last month Israel waged its heaviest bombardment since the conflict began, killing Palestinian militants in response to cross-border fire.
It has said it holds the Syrian government responsible for any spillover of violence.
Diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Syrian war have intensified as record numbers of migrants travel to Europe, and as Russia steps up its military aid for ally President Bashar al-Assad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin on Monday agreed to set up an Israeli-Russian coordination team to prevent the countries accidentally trading fire in Syria.
Israel captured the western Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it, a move not recognized internationally.
(Reporting by John Davison; editing by Andrew Roche)

Israel launches strikes into Syria after rocket attack

Israeli soldiers patrol next to smoke from a fire caused by a rocket attack in northern Israel, near the Lebanese border, August 20, 2015.
Rockets hit an Israeli village near the Lebanese border on Thursday and Israel struck back in the Syrian Golan Heights, saying the rare salvo had been launched there by an Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group.
The group, Islamic Jihad, denied the Israeli allegation. It had previously threatened reprisals should one of its activists in Israeli detention, Mohammed Allan, die of a hunger strike. Allan ended the fast on Wednesday after an Israeli court intervened.
Israeli officials said two rockets struck close to a northern village in the upper Galilee, near the Lebanese border, setting off brush fires but causing no casualties. Air-raid sirens had sent residents to shelters.
The attack was unusual as that frontier had been largely quiet since the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah. By contrast, the Israeli-occupied Golan, about 16 km (10 miles) to the east, has occasionally come under fire from within Syria during the four-year-old civil war there.
The Israeli military said in a statement the rockets that hit the upper Galilee "were launched from the Syrian Golan Heights ... by Islamic Jihad, sponsored by Iran".
Israel "holds the Syrian government responsible for attacks emanating from Syria", the army said, adding it had retaliated against targets in Syria.
An Israeli military source said the air force and artillery had struck "five or six times" in the Syrian Golan.
Syrian state TV confirmed Israeli strikes had hit, but said only material damage was done after "several missiles" targeted a transportation center and a public building in the Quneitra area near the Israeli frontier.
Rebel sources in Syria, however, said the strikes hit some of Damascus's military facilities on the Golan. A monitor initially reported casualties but did not elaborate.
Islamic Jihad's leaders are based in the Syrian capital and most of its followers are in the Gaza Strip, whose dominant faction Hamas has mostly been observing a truce with Israel that ended the war in the Palestinian enclave a year ago.
Dawoud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman in Gaza, denied the group had fired on Israel from the Syrian Golan.
"Israel is trying to divert attention from the defeat that it suffered in the face of the determination of the hero prisoner, Mohammed Allan," Shehab told Reuters.
Allan had refused food in protest at being detained without trial by Israel. On Wednesday, he called off the 65-day hunger strike after Israel's top court suspended his arrest warrant.
The possibility that Allan might die of his fast had drawn Islamic Jihad threats to attack Israel, which in turn deployed Iron Dome rocket interceptors outside Gaza as a precaution.
Islamic Jihad acknowledges receiving support from Iran, Israel's arch-foe. Israel has sought to highlight such Iranian backing for regional armed groups as it campaigns against U.S. congressional approval of the July 14 deal curbing Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for international sanctions relief.
Israel captured the western Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it, a move not recognized abroad. While saying it is keeping out of the Syrian civil war and that some of the shooting against its side of the Golan has been stray fire, Israel has usually retaliated against Damascus's assets over the armistice line.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Roche)
More From Reuters

Read more at Reutershttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/21/us-israel-lebanon-rockets-idUSKCN0QP1OR20150821#7AYYDlBo46Y6tSm1.99

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