Israeli defence chiefs warn Iran, Syria after airstrike

Israeli defence chiefs warn Iran, Syria after airstrike
Israel's defence minister issued a veiled warning to Syria on Thursday, without confirming or denying what Damascus said was an Israeli air strike on its territory.

2 min read
08 September, 2017
The comments were made after Israel hit Syrian territory on Thursday [Getty]
Israel issued a veiled warning to Syria on Thursday, without confirming or denying what Damascus said was an Israeli airstrike on its territory.

"We are determined to prevent our enemies harming, or even creating an opportunity to harm, the security of Israeli citizens," Israel's defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman said in Hebrew, in remarks broadcast on Israeli television.

"We shall do everything in order not to allow the existence of a Shia corridor from Tehran to Damascus."

The comments came after Syria's army accused Israel of hitting one of its positions in western Hama province, killing two people in an attack earlier on the same day.

Syria's army said in a statement that the airstrike caused material damage near the town of Masyaf and warned against the "dangerous repercussions of this aggressive action to the security and stability of the region”.

But Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the strikes hit a Scientific Studies and Research Centre facility - the agency the US describes as Syria's chemical weapons manufacturer.

The site struck near Masyaf, between the central city of Hama and a port used by the Russian navy, is reportedly used by forces from Syria's allies Iran and the Lebanese Hizballah.

In comments made earlier, the head of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Herzl Halevi, did not mention Thursday's strike directly but warned his country's enemies "near and far".

"Serious security threats to Israel are presented by armed organisations most of them financed and aided by Iran," he said in a public address.

"We are dealing with these threats, both near and far, with determination and our enemies in every arena know very well the combination of (our) precise intelligence and operational capabilities."

Israeli planes have previously carried out strikes believed to have targeted the transfer of weapons to the Iranian-backed Hizballah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006.

Israel has long warned it would not allow the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hizballah and has accused Iran of building sites to produce "precision-guided missiles" in both Syria and Lebanon.

Thursday's strike came hours after the UN officially accused Assad's regime of dropping chemical bombs on civilians more than two-dozen times, including a deadly sarin attack in Idlib in April.

Meanwhile, jets flying over Lebanon overnight broke the sound barrier and Lebanese media reported that some Israeli jets had breached Lebanese airspace.

Agencies contributed to this report.