Israeli raid ‘targets’ military positions inside Syria

Syria’s air defenses intercepted missiles in Masyaf. (File/AP)
Updated 14 April 2019
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Israeli raid ‘targets’ military positions inside Syria

  • 17 Syrian troops were wounded in the attack, reports war monitor
  • Israel has in recent months acknowledged it has been striking Iranian targets in Syria

DAMASCUS: An Israeli airstrike on a military position in central Syria early Saturday wounded six soldiers and destroyed several buildings, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes hit three targets, wounding 17 Syrian soldiers. 

It said there were also deaths, but it was not immediately clear how many were killed and whether they were Iranians or Iran-sponsored fighters. 

The strikes targeted the Accounting School as well as a missile development center in a village near Masyaf and a nearby military base run by Iran-backed fighters, the monitor said.

SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying the airstrike near the town of Masyaf, in Hama province, hit a military academy widely known as the Accounting School. It said Israeli warplanes fired missiles toward Syria from Lebanon’s airspace and that Syrian air defenses shot down some of the missiles.

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment on the foreign media report.

“Around 2:30 a.m. ... the Israeli air force carried out a strike targeting one of our military positions in the town of Misyaf,” in Hama province north of Damascus, SANA quoted a military source as saying.

Israel does not usually comment on reports concerning its airstrikes in neighboring Syria, though it has recently acknowledged striking Iranian targets there. The last such strikes that Israel announced were in late March.

“Our air defense batteries intercepted some of the Israeli missiles,” the source said, adding that the strike “wounded three combatants and destroyed buildings.”

The Observatory said the strike targeted a Syrian military college in the town and two buildings used by Iranian forces in nearby villages — a development center for medium-range missiles in Zawi and a training camp in Sheikh Ghadban. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

With the support of the US administration of President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed repeatedly to take whatever military action he deems necessary to prevent archfoe Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah establishing a continuing military presence.

Late last month, Trump broke with decades of international consensus to recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of the strategic Golan Heights, seized from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The move was a diplomatic prize for Israel, but met with a chorus of opposition from US foes and allies alike.

Iran and Hezbollah have both intervened in Syria’s civil war, which erupted in 2011 to support forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.

They were joined in 2015 by Russia, which supplied its S300 air defense system to Assad’s forces after a Russian aircraft was downed by mistake by Syrian defense systems during an Israeli raid on Sept. 17, killing all 15 people on board.

After several months of frosty relations, Russia and Israeli resumed coordination of their military operations in Syria and Israel’s bombing campaign picked up again.

Iran is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has sent military advisers, as well as thousands of fighters from across the region, to help his forces in the eight-year conflict.

Israel considers Iran its biggest threat and has said it will not tolerate an Iranian military presence on its borders.

The most serious wave of airstrikes on Syria this year occurred in January, when the Israeli military hit several Iranian targets, saying it was responding to an Iranian missile attack a day earlier. The Iranian launch followed a rare Israeli daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport.


Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

Updated 16 June 2019
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Syria flare-up kills 35 fighters, including 26 pro-regime forces

  • Russian-backed regime forces try to retake villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters
  • The clashes also left 26 pro-regime forces dead in the north of Hama province

 

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians and 35 combatants, mostly pro-regime forces, were killed on Saturday in clashes and airstrikes that erupted at dawn in northwestern Syria, a war monitor said.

The flare-up came as Russian-backed regime forces tried to retake two villages seized by opposition forces and allied fighters earlier this month, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“Since this morning, the Syrian regime and allied fighters have launched five failed attempts to regain control of Jibine and Tal Maleh in northwestern Hama province,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Syrian regime airstrikes killed nine opposition fighters, the war monitor said.

Ensuing clashes in the north of Hama province left 26 pro-regime forces dead, including eight who were killed in a mine explosion, the Observatory said.

In neighboring Idlib, regime airstrikes killed 10 civilians, including three children, the Observatory said.

The strikes hit the towns of Maaret Al-Numan and Al-Bara as well as the village of Al-Ftira, according to the war monitor.

The Idlib region of some 3 million people is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented, as opposition refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian regime and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Turkey said on Friday that it did not accept Russia’s “excuse” that it had no ability to stop the Syrian regime’s continued bombardments in the last opposition bastion of Idlib.

“In Syria, who are the regime’s guarantors? Russia and Iran,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told state news agency Anadolu in a televised interview.

“Thus we do not accept the excuse that ‘We cannot make the regime listen to us’,” he said.

His comments came as Turkey disagreed with Russia earlier this week after Moscow claimed a new cease-fire had been secured in the province following weeks of regime bombardments — a claim that was denied by Ankara.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-regime protests.

Russia launched a military intervention in support of the regime in 2015, helping its forces reclaim large parts of the country from opposition fighters and militants.