Published: Sun, March 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Netanyahu: Strikes in Syria targeted Hezbollah arms


Although Israel has operated with relative impunity in Syria, Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missile systems - including most recently S300 launchers - have long threatened to complicate Israel's freedom of action over Syria, despite a deconfliction arrangement with Moscow to avoid accidental clashes with Russian aircraft supporting the Assad regime. It would not say whether any other missiles struck Israeli-held territory, but said the safety of Israeli civilians and Israeli aircraft was "not compromised".

The Israeli army denied any planes had been struck and the Syrian government has made similar unfounded claims in the past.

The firing of missiles from Syria toward Israeli aircraft is extremely rare, though Israeli military officials reported a shoulder-fired missile a few months ago. The system was developed with financial backing from the U.S.in response to Arab states' long-range surface-to-surface missiles.

The Arrow 3 interceptor, created to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere, was handed to air force bases in Israel in January after successful testing by Israel and the United States.

Syria claimed in state media to have shot down an Israeli warplane, hit a second one, and then the Israeli planes fled.

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And even if the Arrow system's early warning and tracking radar mistook fragments of the SAM as a ballistic target, where is the debris, experts here are asking? When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to the Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that.

As anti-aircraft missiles were fired from Syria, sirens were heard in the Jordan Valley.

Yaakov Amidror, a former head of Israel's National Security Council, said weapons convoys of the Iran-backed Hezbollah remained a "red line" and that Israel would continue to attack them when deemed necessary.

The army added that none of the missiles hit Israel. It accused its neighbor of aiding extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

According to the nrg news site, the strikes were against targets affiliated with Hezbollah, possibly on a weapons shipment to the Shiite terrorist group, which is based in Lebanon but is fighting in Syria alongside Assad's forces against rebels and Sunni militants.

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