Benjamin Netanyahu admits Israel to blame for Damascus strikes

Erika Holt
January 14, 2019

"Only in the last 36 hours did the air force strike targets in Syria and we have proven that we will not stop the settlement of Iran in Syria", Mr Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

Netanyahu may also be playing up his security credentials as he seeks re-election in April.

Netanyahu has vowed not to let Tehran entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.

Israel has mounted attacks in Syria as part of its effort to counter the influence carved out there by Iran, which has supported President Bashar al-Assad in the war that erupted in 2011.

Since then Israel has been very careful with its operation over Syria.

"Just in the last 36 hours did the [Israel Air Force] attack Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons at the global airport in Damascus", the premier said.

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Meanwhile, the state TV said the Syrian air defenses destroyed eight Israeli missiles over Damascus, and cited airport officials as saying the airport was functioning as usual without changes of flights. While they have at times traded blows within Syria - where Hezbollah has been helping Damascus beat back rebels - the Israel-Lebanon border has mostly been quiet.

A man stands next to a drill as Israeli military personnel continue work on exposing and thwarting cross-border tunnels dug from Lebanon into Israel near the town of Metula December 19, 2018.

The Israeli military said a sixth tunnel was found on Saturday, 55 meters (yards) deep and reaching "a few tens of meters" into Israeli territory from 800 meters within Lebanon.

The powerful Shiite militant Hezbollah, which acts independently in Lebanon, has yet to comment on the Israeli discoveries.

"Hezbollah's operational plan was to use the tunnels weapon to infiltrate many fighters, between 1,000-2,000 terrorists, into the Galilee to seize communities here".

Israel and the United Nations say the tunnels violate a ceasefire resolution made after a 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

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