Israel says hits Syrian army posts in response to drone incursion

An Israeli soldier stands guard on the Israel-Syria border in the annexed-Golan Heights, where sirens were set off following the shooting down of a drone that crossed into Israeli airspace from Syria. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Israel says hits Syrian army posts in response to drone incursion

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM: Israeli forces attacked Syrian military positions near the Golan Heights frontier in the early hours of Thursday, causing limited damage, Syrian state media said.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it hit three targets in retaliation for an incursion on Wednesday of a Syrian drone which was shot down over northern Israel.
“The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces holds the Syrian regime accountable for the actions carried out in its territory and warns it from further action against Israeli forces,” the Israeli statement said.
Israeli-issued black-and-white surveillance footage showed missiles hitting what appeared to be a hut, a two-story structure and a five-story structure amid hilly terrain.
Syrian state media said the positions targeted on Thursday were near Hader village in Quneitra province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
“The aircraft of the Israeli enemy fired several missiles in the direction of some army positions,” state media cited a Syrian military source as saying. At least some of the missiles were thwarted by Syrian air defenses, they said.
Israel has grown deeply alarmed by the expanding clout of its arch enemy Iran during the seven-year war in Syria. Its air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia on Wednesday that Israel would not seek to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but that Moscow, his key ally, should encourage Iranian forces to quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.
Israel has been on high alert as Syrian government forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan, which Israel took from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel worries Assad could let his Iranian allies entrench near its lines or that Syrian forces may defy a 1974 Golan demilitarization.
Earlier this week, state media said air defense systems struck an Israeli warplane and shot down Israeli missiles targeting the T4 air base in Homs province. Israel neither confirmed nor denied carrying out that strike.
With the help of heavy Russian air power, the Syrian army has seized swathes of Daraa province from insurgents in the south in the past three weeks. The offensive is expected to turn next to rebel parts of Quneitra closer to the Golan.


Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

Updated 39 min 16 sec ago
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Algeria deports nearly 400 migrants back to Niger

  • The IOM and EU are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home
  • 391 migrants from 16 west and central African countries had arrived in Assamaka

NIAMEY: Algeria has deported nearly 400 African migrants trying to reach Europe, sending them back over the Sahara desert into neighboring Niger, the UN migration agency (IOM) and Niger said on Sunday.
The IOM and European Union are intensifying efforts to return African migrants home, after thousands have died making the dangerous crossing to Europe across the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Many get stuck before ever reaching Africa’s northern coast, either in Libya, where they suffer slavery and abuse at the hands of militias, or Algeria.
IOM operations officer Livia Manente told Reuters in an email that the group of 391 migrants from 16 west and central African countries had arrived in the Nigerien town of Assamaka on Friday on about 20-30 vehicles, after being stopped while heading to work in various Algerian cities.
“They claim their phones were confiscated and that conditions were poor — not much food and water, crowded rooms),” she said. “They were transported in trucks after the locality of In Guezzam and then obliged to walk across the border ... including families with pregnant women and children.”
Aboubacar Ajouel, the mayor of Agadez, the last destination for the migrants, confirmed that they had arrived.
Algeria declined to confirm this particular deportation, but said that 20,000 migrants had been prevented from reaching Europe by Algerian authorities since January, thanks to security measures put in place at its borders with Mali and Niger.
“We have no choice but to prevent them,” Hassen Kacimi, director of Algeria’s interior ministry in charge of migration, told Reuters by telephone.