Syria fires missiles at Israeli warplanes on bombing run

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20 March, 2017

On Friday, Israeli Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Yisrael Katz confirmed the attacks saying that it targeted a convoy which was supposedly carrying weapons to the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

It did not provide additional details except to say that "several anti-aircraft missiles" had been fired from Syria during the operation, one of which was intercepted by Israeli air defenses.

The Israeli military denied Syria's claims and said that its forces intercepted an anti-aircraft missile, without elaborating, according to the Associated Press.

In a speech on Saturday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of intervening in the Syrian civil war on a daily basis, and claimed that Netanyahu "fears the collapse" of the Islamic State group in Syria.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Israeli raids on Syria targeted advanced weapons of the Hezbollah militia, stressing that Tel Aviv will not allow the transfer of these weapons and that it will continue to target potential threats.

"The safety of Israeli civilians or the Israeli air force aircraft was at no point compromised", Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner told AFP.

Syria used Russian-made SA-5 surface-to-air missiles and Israel responded with its new anti-ballistic Arrow system, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

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"The next time the Syrians use their air defence systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation", Lieberman said on Israeli public radio.

Israeli warplanes had attacked several targets in Syria, the IDF said, prompting the Syrian attack.

The exchange of fire took place in the middle of the night with air raid sirens in the Israeli-occupied Jordan valley and reports of an explosion, which was later clarified as one of the missiles being brought down by Israeli air defences. "When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons..."

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria's civil war.

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, though the border had remained largely quiet for decades until 2011 when the Syrian conflict broke out. The jets, according to the statement, "hit Syrian military positions east of Homs, towards Palmyra".

Israeli media said one missile was intercepted by the Arrow system north of Jerusalem.


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