Thursday, April 27, 2017

Israel strikes hit military depot used by Hezbollah near Damascus

 Activistst posted pictures on which huge fires were to be seen near Damascus (Reuters)

Israel struck an arms supply hub operated by the Lebanese group Hezbollah near Damascus airport on Thursday, targeting weapons sent from Iran via commercial and military cargo planes, Syrian rebel and regional intelligence sources said.
Video carried on Arab TV and shared on social media showed the pre-dawn airstrikes caused a fire around the airport east of the Syrian capital, suggesting fuel sources or weapons containing explosives were hit.
Syrian state media said Israeli missiles hit a military position southwest of the airport.Two senior rebel sources in the Damascus area, citing monitors in the eastern outskirts of the capital, said five strikes hit an ammunition depot used by Iran-backed militias. 
Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz, speaking from the United States where he has been meeting US officials, told Israeli Army Radio: "I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah ... Naturally, I don't want to elaborate on this.

"The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicates an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act." Katz added.
Speaking to Reuters in Washington, Minister Katz said he was seeking an understanding with the Trump administration that Iran not be allowed to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria.

Speaking in Moscow on Wednesday, where he was attending a security conference, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated that Israel "will not allow Iranian and Hezbollah forces to be amassed on the Golan Heights border". Lieberman met with the Russian minister of Defrense en his colleague for Foreign Affairs, Lavrov. An Israeli Defence Ministry statement said Lieberman had expressed concern to Russian ministers over "Iranian activity in Syria and the Iranian use of Syrian soil as a base for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon".
In May 2013 Israel struck three areas in Damascus suburbs, allegedly to destroy Iranian rockets being delivered to Hezbollah. Damascus airport was also hit by Israel in May 2013.
The Syrian army said on January 13, 2016 that Israel had targeted the Mezze military airbase. Mezze airbase is just a few kilometers from the presidential palace.
Israel has in the past targeted Hezbollah positions inside Syria where Iranian backed groups are heavily involved in the fighting.

 Israeli officials estimate that Iran commands about 25,000 fighters in Syria, including members of its own Revolutionary Guard, Shi'ite militants from Iraq and recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Israel has also said that Hezbollah has built up an arsenal of more than 100,000 rockets, many of which would be capable of striking anywhere within Israeli territory.


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