Israel steps up air campaign against Iranian militias in Syria

Israel steps up air campaign against Iranian militias in Syria
An image grab taken from an AFP video shows what appears to be smoke billowing over buildings near the Syrian capital Damascus, following a reported Israeli air strike overnight on July 1, 2019. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 November 2020

Israel steps up air campaign against Iranian militias in Syria

Israel steps up air campaign against Iranian militias in Syria
  • Overnight raids near Damascus kill 8 fighters operating in pro-Iran groups

BEIRUT, AMMAN: Israeli airstrikes in Syria overnight killed at least eight fighters operating in pro-Iran militias, a war monitor said on Wednesday.
The raids targeted an arms depot and a position held by Iranian forces and their Lebanese ally Hezbollah near the capital Damascus, and a pro-Iran militia position in southern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Military defectors believe the targeted sites have a strong Iranian military presence. They said the strike targeted a military base in Jabal Mane Heights near the town of Kiswa, where Iranian Revolutionary Guards have long been entrenched in a rugged area almost 15 km south of the center of Damascus.
The area has anti-aircraft missiles that are stationed to defend the Syrian Golan Heights along the border with Israel, the military sources said.
Israeli defense officials have said in recent months that Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria, where Tehran has expanded its presence with the help of its proxy militias.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria, targeting regime troops as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, which support Bashar Assad.

BACKGROUND

Israel has carried out hundreds of air and missile strikes on Syria, targeting regime troops as well as Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces, which support Bashar Assad.

Last week, Israeli warplanes struck Iranian targets in Syria, in what the Israeli army called a retaliatory attack for what it said were explosive devices found near one of its bases on the Golan Heights.
The nationalities of the fighters, who died in the latest air raid, was not immediately known, the Britain-based monitor said.
Syrian state media earlier said an Israeli airstrike had hit an area “south of Damascus” just before midnight local time.
It also reported another strike against the village of Rwihinah in the southern province of Quneitra near the Golan Heights, without reporting any casualties from either attack.
The Israeli army rarely acknowledges individual strikes and refused to comment when contacted by AFP on Wednesday.
The Syrian media reported that those strikes had killed three Syrian soldiers, while the Observatory said seven allied foreign fighters also died.
On Saturday night, airstrikes killed 14 pro-Iran militia fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan in eastern Syria, the Observatory said, adding they were likely Israeli air raids.
Western intelligence sources say Israel’s stepped-up strikes on Syria in the last few months are a part of a shadow war, approved by Washington and part of the anti-Iran policy that has undermined in the last two years Iran’s extensive military power without triggering a major increase in hostilities.


Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
This picture shows the Dome of the Rock at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Jerusalem's Old City on July 27, 2018, after the site was reopened. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2021

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs

Israeli police prevent Dome of the Rock repairs
  • Council set to denounce action that is ‘violation of understandings’

AMMAN: Israeli police have stopped workers from the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf from renovating the Dome of the Rock for two consecutive days, raising tensions in the old city.

Azzam Khatib, director of the Jordanian Waqf department in Jerusalem, informed Jordan’s Ambassador in Tel Aviv Ghassan Majali and Minister of Waqf in Amman Mohammed Khalaileh of the news.

Israeli officials claim the decision was made after an individual tried to renovate the ceiling of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque, which Israel has demanded Muslims to vacate, without reason.

The Jerusalem Waqf Council is expected to issue a strong statement denouncing the Israeli action, calling it a violation of understandings.

Bassam Hallaq, the Waqf engineer in charge of the renovation, said that Israeli police stopped work on the gold-plated Dome of the Rock on Saturday and Sunday, and prevented urgent electric work, too.

Israel insists that any renovation or repair must be pre-approved. The renovation is not structural.

Arab News has learned that the Israeli actions on Saturday and Sunday followed the efforts of an unknown Palestinian whose face was covered, who climbed the roof of the Bab Al-Rahmeh mosque in order to apply cement to stop leaks.

Israel has forbidden any repair work on the mosque.

Hallaq said that all repair work in the entire Al-Aqsa compound has also been suspended by Israel.

The mosque’s engineer insists that the Waqf has no cement materials inside the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and that Friday was a holiday when staff did not work.

Sheikh Omar Kisswani, director of Al-Aqsa Mosque, told reporters that repairs to the entire 144 dunum Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aqsa mosque compound were the right of the Islamic Waqf and that the Israeli police have no right to interfere in their work.

A spokesman for the Israeli police told Arab News that the “subject isn’t under the responsibility of the Israeli police.”