Israeli official confirms airstrikes in Syria


Associated Press

JERUSALEM

An Israeli security official on Wednesday confirmed responsibility for overnight airstrikes in Syria, saying the air force had hit a series of targets involved in Iranian arms transfers to the Hezbollah militant group.

Russia had criticized the airstrike, saying it endangered civilian flights. The comments highlighted the increasingly tense relations between Israel and Russia, which have grown strained since the September downing of a Russian plane by Syrian forces responding to another Israeli raid.

The Israeli official said the air force had attacked several Iranian targets in three main locations late Tuesday and early Wednesday. He said the targets were primarily storage and logistics facilities used by archenemy Iran to ship weapons to Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese group that fought Israel in a 2006 war.

He said Israel also destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery that fired at the Israeli planes, and claimed that Iranian forces are operating less than 50 miles from the Israeli border, contrary to Russian assurances.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity under standard Israeli security protocols. The military has not commented on the incident.

Earlier Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that six Israeli F-16 jets launched a “provocative” raid at the moment when two civilian airliners were preparing to land in Damascus and Beirut, creating a “direct threat” to the aircraft.

Lebanon’s acting Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos later on Wednesday confirmed Konashenkov’s account, saying the two airplanes in Lebanese airspace “narrowly” escaped Israeli warplanes, averting a “human catastrophe.”

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