Israeli rockets strike near Damascus airport

(April 27)Syrian opposition sources claim that Israeli strikes hit an arms depot operated by Hezbollah near Damascus airport. Witnesses said there were five strikes, near the airport road about 25 kilometers from Damascus.

Syrian state TV also quoted military sources as claiming that rockets fired from Israeli territory had targeted a military area in the southwestern part of the airport that caused huge explosions. Photos were posted on line showing a large fire near the area.
Al Jazeera's Hashern Ahelbarran said:"We do understand that the Israelis have been carrying out strikes in the past. The last one was in January targeting the Mezze military base. In 2015 they also launched attacks near the capital Damascus and in the Golan Heights, killing two prominent Hezbollah commanders, including Jihad Mughniya who is the son of the top military commander of Hezbollah Imad Mughniya who was also killed in Damascus in 2008."
While Israel has not officially accepted responsibility for the act, Israeli Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz, told Israeli Army Radio:"I can confirm that the incident in Syria corresponds completely with Israel's policy to act to prevent Iran's smuggling of advanced weapons via Syria to Hezbollah ... Naturally, I don't want to elaborate on this. The prime minister has said that whenever we receive intelligence that indicated an intention to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, we will act."Yoav Galant, the Israeli construction minister, also declined to confirm the attack but said on TV: “Our enemies must know: We will know to use our power to protect our interests by ourselves.”
An intelligence source told Reuters the depot that was targeted handles a significant number of weapons that Tehran, a major regional ally of Syria, sends by air to help Hezbollah and others. Israel has carried out attacks a number of times with complete impunity it seems. In May of 2013, it struck three areas in Damascus suburbs, allegedly to destroy Iranian rockets it claimed were being delivered to Hezbollah. The airport was also hit. In 2016, in January the Syrian army reported that Israel targeted the Mezze airbase just a few kilometers from the Royal Palace. The Syrian government warned this January that it would retaliate against any attack targeting its own area but does nothing. Al-Manar TV, which is linked to Hezbollah said that the raid struck fuel tanks and a warehouse near the Damascus International Airport. It said that there was material, damage but no reported deaths as yet. Just a few days ago an Israeli attack on a Syrian camp near the Golan heights killed three.
Russia criticized the strikes saying that Israel and other countries should avoid doing anything that heightened tension in the region. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "We consider that all countries should avoid any actions that lead to higher tensions in such a troubled region and call for Syrian sovereignty to be respected." Peskov said that Russia and Israel were in constant contact concerning the situation Peskov maintained. In other words, Israel was probably assured that Russia would take no action after the attack it would appear. If Putin were like Trump he would unilaterally attack the positions from which the rockets were launched in Israel. Russia has spoken out strongly not only against the recent US strikes on a Syrian airbase but against Turkish strikes on Kurdish positions. However, it has not taken significant action it would seem.
A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said Russia thought these airstrikes played into the hands of militant groups and complicated the search for a political solution in Syria. The Islamic State (IS) apparently even apologized for firing on Israeli troops! Zakharova said Russia also considered the attacks an act of aggression against Syria. She claimed they were unacceptable and against the principles and norms of international law. Yet there is no hint that Russia will respond even if such attacks occur again. Russia had issued warnings after an earlier attack but has failed to follow through. Apparently no Israeli airplanes entered Syria during the strikes. Will there be any condemnations and criticism from western leaders or will the event just quickly disappear from the news altogether?


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