Russia Demands Israeli Explanation of Air Strikes in Syria

Strikes said to have hit weapons and a convoy destined for Hezbollah; Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the action.

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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking in a Beirut suburb, November 3, 2014.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking in a Beirut suburb, November 3, 2014.Credit: AP

Russia has demanded an explanation from Israel about air strikes in Syria on Sunday that the Syrian government attributed to Israel

"Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said.

In a letter to the United Nations, Russia complained about Israel's "aggressive action" and demanded that such attacks should not happen again, the spokesman said.

Syria also complained to the UN about the strikes, demanding that the Security Council "severely condemn the Israeli attack and impose punitive sanctions on Israel due to its support of Syrian terrorist organizations."

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the reported strikes. "We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organizations," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio on Monday.

The Damascus airport warehouses reportedly targeted by the Israeli air strikes on Sunday held Iranian missile systems destined for the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, DPA reported, quoting a Lebanese security source.

Al-Arabiya reported that two Hezbollah militants, one of whom was high-ranking, were killed in the strike.

A Syrian military source confirmed that the hangars at Damascus International Airport contained missiles but gave no details about their origin or destination.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, described the target as an import-export warehouse in the military area of the airport.

The Lebanese official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said a Hezbollah convoy heading to Lebanon had been hit in another set of strikes at Dimas, approximately half-way between Damascus and the Lebanese border.

One of the attacks near Damascus yesterday, and Israeli attacks over the past two years, according to foreign reports. Credit: YouTube channel

The strikes hit an air base at Dimas where advanced Iranian drones were stationed along with Syrian troops and Hezbollah forces, the Syrian official said.

There have been several reported observations of Iranian drones during the Syrian conflict.

Iran is Syrian President Bashar Assad's closest ally, and Iranian-aligned Shiite militias including Hezbollah have played a key role in backing up his overstretched forces.

In Teheran on Monday, the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers condemned the reported Israeli air strikes, calling them an act of aggression that proves Israel was "in the same trench" with extremist groups fighting the Syrian government.

The reference was to a United Nations report published last week which said that UN observers had observed Syrian rebels "sporadically ... interacting" with Israeli soldiers between the Syrian- and Israeli-controlled areas of the Golan Heights.

Speaking on Monday at a joint news conference in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Israel was trying to compensate for losses incurred by Islamic extremist groups in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army. He did not elaborate.

The state-run Lebanese National News Agency reported that Israeli troops were on alert along the Israel-Lebanon border on Monday.

The alert was mainly in the Shabba Farms area, the agency said, with patrols in the Wazzani and Kfarshouba hills areas and drones and helicopters flying overhead.

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