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Israeli warplanes strike targets in central Syria


PTI, Jan 22, 2021, 4:48 PM IST

Beirut: Israeli warplanes fired several missiles in central Syria early on Friday, Syrian state media reported, without giving word on casualties.

State news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying the attack took place shortly before dawn when Israeli warplanes flew over neighbouring Lebanon.

Israel has launched hundreds of strikes against Iran-linked military targets in Syria over the years but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations.

The Syrian military official said the attacked was aimed at several targets in and near the central province of Hama.

It added that Syrian air defence units shot down most of the missiles.

It was Israel’s first strike on Syria since President Joe Biden took office.

Tension has been high in the Middle East over the past weeks as many had feared retaliation for the US killing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani last year in Baghdad.

On January 13, Israeli warplanes carried out intense airstrikes in eastern Syria apparently targeting positions and arms depots of Iran-backed forces. At least 57 fighters were killed and dozens were wounded, according to a Syrian opposition war monitoring group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor that tracks Syria’s war, said it recorded 39 Israeli strikes inside Syria in 2020 that hit 135 targets, including military posts, warehouses or vehicles.

Israel views Iranian entrenchment on its northern frontier as a red line, and it has repeatedly struck Iran-linked facilities and weapons convoys destined for Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.

The strikes also come amid intensifying low-altitude Israeli warplane missions in Lebanese skies that have caused jitters among residents.

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