In a rare public acknowledgement of Israeli operations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he personally ordered the recent airstrikes against Syrian military positions. The Israeli premier made the provocative remarks on Sunday shortly after new air raids struck Syrian military positions in the southern region of Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing three soldiers and wounding seven others. Israel claims it was responding to two rockets allegedly launched from Syria late Saturday, which caused no casualties. “We will not tolerate firing into our territory and will respond fiercely against any aggression against us,” Benjamin Netanyahu said. Hours after the Quneitra airstrikes, Israel launched missile attacks against the T-4 airbase near the western Syrian city of Homs, killing an army soldier and wounding two others. The Syrian air defense reportedly managed to successfully intercept a number of the missiles. The Israeli prime minister further threatened strikes against positions of Iranian military advisers in Syria, claiming that “anyone who tries to hurt us will be hurt far worse.” The Israeli air force has staged repeated air raids against Syrian military bases that it claims are used by Iranian military advisers. Iranian advisers are in Syria on the request of the country’s legitimate government to help the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed militants. Syria’s official SANA news agency said the recent Israeli airstrikes are an attempt to prop up terrorist groups based in western provinces of Hama and Idlib that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces. “The
Russian and Syrian forces intensified air strikes and shelling in rebel-held northwestern Syria overnight, the heaviest assault since the area was declared a demilitarized zone under a Russian-Turkish deal, residents and medics said on Thursday. The targeted villages and towns in northern Hama and southern Idlib fall within a buffer zone agreed last September between Russia and Turkey as part of a deal which averted a major offensive on the area.
Schools, health facilities and residential areas have been hit, United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis told Reuters on Thursday. “The barrel bombing is the worst we have seen for at least 15 months.”
He added that 300,000 people live in the buffer zone where there are hostilities. Earlier this week, the United States warned violence in the buffer zone “will result in the destabilisation of the region”.
Syria’s army Friday warned residents of the country’s last major rebel bastion to stay away from jihadists, who have yet to withdraw from a buffer zone ahead of a looming deadline.
“Get away from the fighters. Their fate is sealed and near,. Don’t allow the terrorists to take you as human shields.”