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Israel launches new air strike on Syria: Syrian state media

Israel's army said it had carried out widespread raids against Iranian targets in Syria overnight after rocket fire towards its forces which it blamed on Iran

Israeli air crafts struck targets in Hama, Syria after flying through Lebanese air space, local media reported on Saturday.

Syrian state media SANA also confirmed the airstrikes on Saturday, saying they targeted the Center for Scientific Research in the area of Musayaf in Hama.

"One of our military positions in Masyaf was the target of an Israeli air aggression," Syria's official news agency SANA said quoting a military source.

It was the fourth time this month that Syria has accused Israel of bombing a military position in the war-wracked country.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, also reported the air strike and said it targeted a "workshop supervised by Iranians where surface-to-surface missiles are made".

"Iranian forces and forces from Lebanon's (Shiite) Hezbollah movement are deployed in that sector," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

A government scientific research center is located in Masyaf and was hit by an Israeli air strike in September 2017.

According to the United States sarin gas was being developed at that center, a charge denied by the Syrian authorities.


-Israeli strikes in Syria-

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "we will not stop taking action in Syria against Iran's attempts to establish a military presence there."

Israel has repeatedly threatened to act if Iran developed an entrenched military presence in southern Syria, which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Iran has forces deployed in Syria to support Assad's regime, as well as supervising the involvement of several Shiite militia groups it sponsors, some of them from other countries such as Iraq or Afghanistan.

Syria often attributes airstrikes on military bases to Israel, but the Jewish state only rarely confirms such strikes.

However, Israel admitted in May that it was behind the April 9 attack on an Iranian T-4 airbase in Syria. The Israeli army gave a more detailed description of the target, saying the strike was aimed at a shipment of advanced air defense weapons, which included one with a range of 110 kilometers.

The Israeli army also confirmed that it launched an extensive campaign of retaliatory strikes on Iranian-operated bases in Syria in May, responding to a barrage of rockets and missiles fired by Iran towards the Israeli part of the Golan Heights only hours before.

Kobi Gideon/GPO

“Overnight, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Forces in Syrian territory,” an army statement said, referring to the special forces unit affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and seemingly the first time Israel attributed an attack directly to Iran rather than its proxies.

The Quds force did not claim responsibility for the attack and semi-official Iranian media have attributed the fire to the Syrian army.

Netanyahu has met with Russian President Putin several times, most recently on July 10 where the Israeli Prime Minister presented his demands that all Iranian forces be removed from Syria at the top of the agenda.

After landing in Moscow, Netanyahu made his way to the Kremlin, where he shook hands with Putin and began a closed door meeting.

"Clearly our focus is on Syria and Iran. Our opinion is that Iran needs to leave Syria -- that's not new to you," Netanyahu told the Russian leader.

Exactly as his plane touched down in Russia, the Israeli military announced that it had shot down a Syrian military drone that entered Israel's airspace.

"Co-operation between us is central to the prevention of these flare ups and deterioration of these situations and others," Netanyahu said, referring to the drone's interception.

Putin, who earlier lauded the state of Israel and Russia's relationship, told the Israeli premier "we are aware of your concerns, let us discuss them in detail" before the two began formal talks.

Wednesday’s Netanyahu-Putin summit is the latest in a series of regular meetings and phone calls between the two leaders since Russia's direct military intervention in the Syrian civil war in support of President Bashar Al-Assad in 2015.

AFP contributed to this report


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