Monday, December 4, 2017

Syria accuses Israel of strike on army base near Damascus - Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, Erez Linn, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, Erez Linn, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Base believed to have been earmarked for Iranian troops, local militias loyal to them

The Israeli Air Force struck a military base near Damascus, Syrian state media reported Saturday. The site is believed to have been earmarked for use by Iranian forces in Syria and local militias loyal to them.

The report has not been corroborated by any Israeli source and an IDF official said the military does not comment on reports in Arab media.

The Syrian Arab News Agency said Syrian air defense had intercepted two of the Israeli missiles fired at a military base near the city of al-Kiswa, some 13 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus and 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Israeli-Syrian border.

"The Israeli enemy launched several missiles toward a military position. There were no material losses at the site," SANA said.

The agency quoted a Syrian military official as saying that Israel fired surface-to-surface missiles at the base from an IDF base in the Golan Heights.

Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya network and Lebanese TV channel Al Mustaqbal both reported that more than 10 people were killed in the strike, including Iranian troops.

The Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen network reported that it was a Russian-supervised defense system that intercepted one of the Israeli missiles.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said missiles struck an arms depot shortly after midnight.

Other Arab media outlets reported that the strike was carried out from Lebanese airspace.
In a speech recorded on Thursday for the annual Saban Forum in New York this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not tolerate Iranian bases off its northern border.

"I want to reiterate our policy: We will not allow the Iranian regime, which declares it strives to destroy the Jewish state, to acquire nuclear weapons, and we will not allow this regime to establish itself militarily in Syria as it seems to be doing, with the explicit intention of annihilating Israel," he said.

Satellite images of the al-Kiswa area that aired on the BBC in November provided proof that Iran was setting up a military base at the site as part of its efforts to prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

The BBC said construction on the site was progressing rapidly and that it was most likely designated as either barracks or hangars. A Western official quoted in the report said it was likely Iranian officials had visited the site.

Senior Israeli officials have made it clear in recent months that Israel will spare no effort to prevent Iran from cementing its military grip on Syria. Arab media reported that Israel used various diplomatic channels to stop Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, saying that Saturday's strike was most likely mounted after all diplomatic efforts were exhausted.

Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana, Erez Linn, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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