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Syria accuses Israel of airstrikes aimed at area near Damascus, Golan Heights

January 9, 2018 2:52 PM
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Syria accuses Israel of airstrikes aimed at area near Damascus, Golan Heights

Israeli doesn't confirm actions, but Netanyahu says country is trying to deter Hezbollah

Israeli jets and ground-to-ground missiles struck Syria early on Tuesday, Syria's army said, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated he would do what was needed to stop Hezbollah gaining "game-changing" Iranian weapons.

The Syrian army said in a statement carried by state television that Israeli jets fired missiles at the al-Qutaifa area near Damascus from inside Lebanese airspace at 2:40 a.m local time. and Syrian air defences hit one of the planes.

Israel then fired rockets from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but the Syrian defences brought them down, the army said, adding that Israeli jets fired a final barrage of four rockets from inside Israel, one of which was intercepted by Syrian air defences while the others caused material damage.

Israel has pledged to prevent Syrian territory being used for Iran to set up bases or transfer high-quality weaponry to Lebanon's Hezbollah group, which has been helping Damascus beat back a six-year-old rebellion.

The Israeli military declined to comment. Although the Israeli air force chief last August disclosed that his corps had struck in Syria about 100 times, Israel's policy is generally not to confirm or deny such operations.

Netanyahu said in answer to a reporter's question about the strikes that Israel's policy was to stop Hezbollah moving "game-changing weapons" out of Syria.

"We back it up as necessary with action," he said, without explicitly confirming Israel carried out Tuesday's strikes.

In its statement, the Syrian army repeated previous warnings of serious repercussions for the strikes and repeated its past accusation that Israel was using attacks to support militant groups in Syria.


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