Wed, 27 May 2020

Israel refuses to confirm or deny Syrian attacks

Voice of America
16 Feb 2020, 05:06 GMT+10

JERUSALEM - Syria says that Israel attacked five separate targets near Damascus with missiles from the Golan Heights. Israel did not accept responsibility for the attacks but news reports said the targets were Iranian weapons. Iran has threatened a harsh response to any Israeli attacks.

Missile explosions sounded in the skies above Damascus just before midnight Thursday.

Syria said the missiles were fired from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, and that Syrian forces shot down several of them. At least seven fighters, both Iranian and Syrian, were reported killed.

Israel did not comment on this attack, but in the past has acknowledged hundreds of attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Israeli press reports said the Iranian weapons had arrived in Damascus Wednesday and were destined for the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.

The attack came a week after a similar strike, also allegedly by Israel.

Israeli security analyst Amir Oren told I24 News that Israel did not take responsibility for the attack because it does not want a war with Iran or Syria.

"It is not going to gladly suffer any transfer of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah or the pro-Iranian militias in Syria, and incidentally the fact that this attack was carried out according to the reports by ground to ground missiles launched from the Golan Heights rather than from the air shows the operational value of the Golan Heights for Israel," Oren said.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967 and later annexed the territory, a move that President Trump recognized last year.

The alleged Israeli attacks have raised tensions between Israel and Iran. Before this latest attack, Iran had repeatedly threatened Israel, and it's ally the U.S. In Iran, crowds chanted calls for revenge.

Israel's situation is complicated by the fact that Russia is operating in Syria. Last week, during the previous alleged Israeli attack, Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles, one of which narrowly missed a Russian passenger plane with 172 people aboard. Russia warned Israel against unilateral action in Syria. But Israeli officials say they will not let Hezbollah, which already has more than 100,000 rockets that can hit all of Israel, get more sophisticated weapons.

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