Lieberman Says Israel Will Continue to Operate Freely in Syria

Israeli Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz
Israeli Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz
Author

01 May, 2018

Earlier, state television said successive blasts were heard in rural Hama province and that authorities were investigating the cause.

Diplomats have warned of a possible major escalation between Israel and Iran in Syria as Assad and his allies take more territory from rebels. The attack, which is believed to have been carried out by Israel, killed 22 Iranians and four Syrians and wounded around 60 others.

Military and political sources have told Russian Federation and the United States that Tel Aviv will target Iran directly if Tehran acts on its threat to respond to Israel's alleged Sunday night attack on military bases in Syria, Haaretz reports.

Lebanon's Al-Akhbar daily, considered close to the militant Iranian-backed Hezbollah group and the Syrian government, said the attack targeted "important arms depots used by the [Syrian] army and Iran's Revolutionary Guards". "After the attack on Syria attributed to Israel on Sunday night, at least the fifth since September, there seems to be little room for doubt". It cited "local sources and activists" for its report. But its security Cabinet convened an emergency meeting Monday, apparently to discuss the rising tensions with Israel's northern neighbors.

However, a source in the pro-Shiite Iranian-backed forces in Syria said that Iran had indeed lost at least 11 of its personnel in the attacks, with a total of 16 killed.

The Syrian state news media confirmed that there were strikes in the central city of Hama and near the northern city of Aleppo late Sunday, but it did not provide a death toll.

Speaking in Israel on Sunday, Pompeo said the United States was "deeply concerned about Iran's unsafe escalation of threats towards Israel and the region" and said it was critical for the two allies to work together to stop it.

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Syria condemned the attack as a "new aggression".

"We will keep our freedom of operation in all of Syria".

Israel has also been blamed for the air attack in conflicting reports.

The state media in Damascus have not realized casualties recorded in attacks on base of Brigade 47 in Salhab (Hama) or against military airfield of Nairab, near airport of Aleppo.

That raid on the Iran-operated base was widely seen as its first direct attack on Iranian assets and a worrying sign of how Syria's seven-year conflict could escalate into a wider regional war.

Reinforcements arrived in government-held areas before the bombardment, which targeted Rastan, the biggest town in the pocket, and several nearby villages, the Observatory said.

SANA reported that Sunday's attack came as an agreement was reached to evacuate opposition rebels from areas south of the capital Damascus, specifically from Yelda, Beit Saham and al-Yarmouk camp, home to Palestinian refugees.


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