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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 February 2019

Israel announces air strikes on Iranian military targets in Syria

Attack after missiles fired from Syria into the Golan Heights on Sunday

Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles targeting an area in Damascus, Syria. EPA
Syrian air defences intercept Israeli missiles targeting an area in Damascus, Syria. EPA

Israel carried out air strikes against Iranian military targets inside Syria on Sunday, marking the third wave of such attacks since the US announced its intention to withdraw.

In an unusual admission by Tel Aviv, the Israeli army issued a statement detailing the strikes.

At 1.42am on Monday (local time) the army tweeted a statement that it “has started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory”.

The statement comes at a tense time between Israel and Syria and is a rare admission by the Israeli army that it is taking military action inside Syrian territory. In the past, Israel would either claim responsibility after the attack or avoid any official comment, but not announce targeting the Iranian Quds force at the time of the attack.

The Syrian state media claimed that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s air defences foiled an outside attack and struck down several targets. A video circulating online shows a fireball over Damascus and the sounds of explosions and gunfire in the area. The National could not independently confirm its authenticity.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strikes have hit the area around Damascus airport and its southern and south-west suburbs.

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli military said missiles fired from Syria towards the northern Golan were intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.

 A view of Mount Hermon from Ben Tal overlooking in the Golan Heights. Israel and Syria have been trading rocket fire. EPA
 A view of Mount Hermon from Ben Tal overlooking in the Golan Heights. Israel and Syria have been trading rocket fire. EPA

This is the second wave of Israeli strikes in Syria in less than 10 days, and the third since the US announced withdrawal plans on December 19.

A senior US official told The National that Israel is concerned about the withdrawal and what it means for the Iranian presence in Syria, but that the latest discussions between Washington and Tel Aviv have helped in addressing some of those concerns.

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Updated: January 21, 2019 11:18 AM

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