Syria’s air defenses intercept ‘hostile targets’ above Damascus countryside

An Israeli army Namer IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) drives during a drill in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, near the settlement of Merom Golan on the border with Syria, on August 3, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 04 August 2020

Syria’s air defenses intercept ‘hostile targets’ above Damascus countryside

  • Israel launches air strikes on Syria after thwarted border attack

DAMASCUS: Syria’s air defenses on Monday intercepted ‘hostile targets’ above Damascus’ southwestern countryside, state media reported.
No details were immediately available and there were no initial reports of damage or casualties.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reported there were Israeli air raids on the southern province of Quneitra and on Boukamal city, near the Iraqi border in the northeast.
The Observatory also said that earlier, dawn air raids on Boukamal had killed 15 people.

Earlier, Israel launched air strikes on Syrian military targets in southern Syria late Monday, after thwarting an attack near the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights.
The Israeli army said its fighters jets, attack helicopters and other warplanes struck Syrian army positions in retaliation for the attempt to lay explosives in the Golan Heights.
“The targets struck include observation posts and intelligence collection systems, anti-aircraft artillery facilities and command and control systems in SAF (Syrian Armed Forces) bases,” the army said in statement.
“The IDF holds the Syrian government responsible for all activities on Syrian soil, and will continue operating with determination against any violation of Israeli sovereignty,” it said.
Tensions are already high between bitter rivals Israel and Syria.
Last month, Israeli army helicopters struck military targets in southern Syria in retaliation for earlier “munitions” fire toward Israel.
Israel did not directly blame Syrian forces for the munitions fire, but said it held the Damascus government responsible.
And earlier Monday, the Israeli army said it had killed four men laying explosives near the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan Heights.

“They were inside Israeli territory but beyond the fence,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told journalists in a telephone briefing.
He said an Israeli commando unit lying in wait attacked the intruders shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday (2000 GMT) with assault rifles and sniper fire backed by air strikes.
“Our estimate is that all four were killed,” Conricus said in English, adding that there were no Israeli casualties.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Monday that “the army thwarted an attempted attack on the Syrian front.”
“We don’t let our guard down,” he said, recalling an incident at the Lebanese border last week that prompted Israeli artillery fire across the frontier, as well as rocket fire Sunday evening from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip which led to retaliatory Israeli air strikes.
Israel will “strike anyone who attacks us or tries to attack us,” he added.

Archaeologists unearth 27 coffins buried 2,500 years ago in Egyptian tomb

Updated 22 September 2020

Archaeologists unearth 27 coffins buried 2,500 years ago in Egyptian tomb

  • Egyptian antiquities officials believe the discovery to be the largest of its kind in the region

CAIRO: Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered 27 coffins that were buried more than 2,500 years ago in a pharaonic cemetery.

The sarcophagi were found at the Saqqara site in the governorate of Giza, south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Egyptian antiquities officials believe the discovery to be the largest of its kind in the region. Saqqara was an active burial ground for more than 3,000 years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Initial studies indicate that the coffins and shrouds inside have remained tightly sealed since burial, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.

The discovery was part of an Egyptian dig in the Saqqara area which unearthed an 11-meter-deep well containing colorfully painted wooden coffins stacked on top of each other along with other smaller artefacts.

Khaled Al-Anani, the Egyptian minister of antiquities, postponed announcing the discovery until he could visit the site himself, where he thanked teams for working in difficult conditions.

Ahmed Abdel Aziz, a professor of pharaonic archeology at a private university, said: “This new discovery is not the first in the Saqqara archaeological area. Archaeological discoveries have increased over the past years which draw attention to this region.

“This prompted many archaeological missions from many countries to work in this region, trying to probe the depths of this region and the treasures hidden inside it.”

Al-Anani said the increase in archaeological discoveries and the number of projects recently implemented by the Ministry of Antiquities were down to political will and exceptional support from the Egyptian government.

He pointed out the importance of resuming the work of 300 archaeological missions from 25 countries after a hiatus of a number of years, including some working in Egypt for the first time such as the joint Egyptian Chinese archaeological mission.

There were about 50 Egyptian missions working at sites in governorates throughout the country and Al-Anani praised their efforts in helping to unearth more evidence of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities, said that Saqqara was one of the most promising historical areas when it came to archaeological discoveries, adding that he planned to continue working in the area with his mission members to uncover more secrets and treasures of the past.

He noted that new finds during the current excavation season would have a positive impact on tourism in Egypt at locations such as Giza, Saqqara, Luxor, and Aswan.

Mohamed Abdel Hamid, vice president of the Egyptian Association for Tourism and Archaeological Development, said that the discovery was a testament to the architectural development of the area that could be seen in King Djoser’s collection. The pharaoh was found in a step pyramid which was the first tomb in Egypt to be built using stones.