Saturday 29 December 2018 - 10:15

Syrian army positions, not Iranian advisers, target of Israeli attack: DEBKAfile

Story Code : 769181
Smoke rises past a mountain as seen from Damascus countryside, December 25, 2018, following an Israeli missile attack in Syria. (Photo by Reuters)
Smoke rises past a mountain as seen from Damascus countryside, December 25, 2018, following an Israeli missile attack in Syria. (Photo by Reuters)

The DEBKAfile cited "highly credible" US military sources as saying that Israel had decided to take advantage of the chaos generated by Washington's decision to withdraw forces from Syria and Turkey’s threat to launch an operation in the Arab country's north.

Tel Aviv's purpose of the Syria offensive was to disable the Syrian military sites, they added.

On Tuesday night, Israeli F-16 warplanes fired Delilah cruise missiles from Lebanon's air space into Syria followed by similar air raids near Damascus by F-35 stealth fighter jets.

The second phase of the attack came after the F-16 missiles failed to reach their targets, DEBKAfile reported. 

Russia's Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Syrian air defenses had destroyed 14 of 16 Israeli missiles launched against unspecified targets near Damascus by six Israeli F-16s.

The Israeli army claimed in a tweet that it had prevented “the establishment of Iranian military capabilities in Syria."

Initial Israeli media reports speculated that a 747 cargo jet, belonging to Iran’s Fars Air Qeshm, had been the target of the Israeli attack at the Damascus airport.

Russia's Defense Ministry also said the airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel "directly endangered" two civilian flights.

However, ImageSat International, an Israeli satellite imaging company, released photos of what it alleged to be an Iranian warehouse near Damascus flattened by Israeli strikes.

Syrian state media reported that Syria's air defenses had confronted "hostile" missiles launched by Israeli warplanes from over the Lebanese territory and downed most of them before they reached their targets.

The aggression, they added, damaged an ammunition warehouse and injured three Syrian soldiers.

Israel frequently attacks military targets inside Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up Takfiri terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

On the contrary, Iran has been offering advisory military assistance to the Syrian government in its counter-terrorism battle at the request of Damascus.

US President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced last week that the US would be pulling all its 2,000 forces out of Syria, in a move widely seen as a victory for Damascus and its allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Trump's decision would not affect Tel Aviv's policy towards Syria.

But senior Israeli political and military figures criticized the US planned Syria withdrawal as a "surrender."

"The surrender of the Americans from Syria is a failure of Netanyahu's foreign policy. It clears the way for Iran's expansion and narrows Israel's ability to bargain with the Russians," tweeted Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Israeli Yesh Atid party.
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