Friday, August 3, 2018

Israeli airstrike kills 7 ISIS terrorists on Syrian border - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Terrorist cell eliminated just 200 meters from Syria-Israel border fence • Israeli troops recover explosive belts, assault rifle nearby

An Israeli airstrike on the Syrian side of the Golan ‎Heights border has eliminated seven terrorists, the ‎IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Thursday.‎

According to available information, Israeli Air Force aircraft were scrambled to target the cell after its members were spotted approaching the security fence.  Israeli troops later found several explosive belts ‎and an AK-47 assault rifle near the border.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis issued a statement on Thursday saying, "An operation was undertaken overnight in the Golan Heights. At around 10:30 p.m., IAF aircraft targeted seven terrorists we identified as armed and on the move. We monitored them over time."

According to Manelis, the terrorists were identified as members of the Islamic State terrorist organization and were hit a mere "200 meters from the border fence."

Manelis stressed that "at no point was there any threat to any [Israeli] soldiers or communities. We had them at a far enough distance from the border that they posed no threat to the troops, and certainly not to communities.

‎"The IDF remains on high alert and is ready to ‎defend the Israeli public."

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitoring group, said early Thursday that clashes were continuing between the Syrian army and Islamic State militants in that area.

There was no immediate Syrian government response to the Israeli statements.

Commenting on the recent developments in Syria, ‎‎where Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces are now ‎‎again in control of the area near the Israeli ‎‎border, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Syria's return to its ‎pre-civil war situation ‎was "a given."‎

Lieberman also predicted that the Golan Heights frontier ‎‎would be calmer with Assad's rule restored.‎

Before the Syrian civil war began in 2011 and ‎‎throughout the seven years of fighting, Israel and Syria have ‎‎mostly been careful to observe the 1974 cease-fire ‎‎agreement between them. ‎

The conflict has seen several small flare-ups ‎‎between the two enemy states, but both have sought ‎‎to contain tensions.‎

‎"From our perspective, the situation is returning to ‎‎how it was before the civil war, meaning there is ‎‎someone in charge, a central ruler," Lieberman told ‎‎reporters. ‎

Asked whether Israelis should be less wary of ‎‎potential flare-ups on the Golan, he said, "I believe so."

But he then qualified that with, "We remain ready and willing and we ‎‎will prove our abilities at the moment of truth. We ‎‎will not compromise when it comes to our security interests."‎

Israel has been adamant about preventing Assad's ‎‎ally, Iran, from entrenching itself militarily in ‎‎Syria. Russia, the superpower that sided with Assad ‎‎in 2015, effectively ensuring his survival, has ‎‎presented Israel with guarantees that Iranian-backed ‎‎forces will remain 85 kilometers (53 miles) from the ‎‎border. ‎

Israel insists this measure still falls short and ‎‎demands the removal of all the Iranian-backed forces ‎‎from Syria, something Russian Foreign Minister ‎‎Sergey Lavrov has called "unrealistic."‎

Lieberman stressed Thursday that "Syrian soil cannot ‎‎be used as an Iranian front against Israel and Syria ‎‎cannot be used as a conduit for weapons smuggling to ‎‎Hezbollah."‎

He reiterated his assessment that, with Assad ‎firmly ‎back in power, the Golan Heights border will ‎once ‎again be calm, saying, "He [Assad] knows what ‎will ‎happen otherwise. It's in his interest [to keep ‎the ‎border calm] and he will have to make his own ‎‎considerations." ‎

Commenting on the tensions on the Israel-‎Gaza Strip border, Lieberman said that Hamas has ‎been using children to send incendiary balloons over ‎the border into Israel, and its operative have been ‎using civilian homes and venues as cover for the terrorist cells.‎

The Palestinian arson campaign has been ‎wreaking ‎havoc on Israeli border towns for three ‎months and has caused millions of dollars in damage. ‎

Residents of Israeli communities near the Gaza border, as well ‎as several cabinet ministers, have demanded that the ‎government handle kite terrorist cells with the same ‎lethal force it does rocket launching cells. But top ‎defense officials have been wary of such a move, ‎saying that directly targeting kite and balloon ‎cells, which mostly comprise teenagers and children, ‎would lead the already volatile situation on the ‎border to spiral out of control. ‎

‎"We have to targets those [Hamas leaders] who give ‎the flaming balloons cells their orders, not the ‎pawns," Lieberman said.‎

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‎canceled a trip to Colombia planned for next week due to the situation ‎around the Gaza Strip.‎

Netanyahu ‎had been scheduled to visit the Latin American country from ‎Aug. 6-9 to attend the inauguration ceremony of ‎President-elect Ivan Duque Marquez.‎

Numerous Latin American states are expected to ‎attend the Aug. 7 ceremony in Bogota. Netanyahu was ‎expected to hold a series of meetings with the ‎leaders of Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina and Chile, ‎among others, in an effort to bolster Israel's ‎standing in the region.‎

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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