Russia Decries Israel's 'Crude Violations of Syria's Sovereignty' After Airstrikes

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says strikes attributed to Israel in Syria, where Russia's forces bolster President Assad, 'may trigger a sharp escalation of tensions' and endanger passenger flights

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Haaretz
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Damage caused by an Israeli strike in the Damascus area, this week.
Damage caused by an Israeli strike in the Damascus area, this week.Credit: SANA
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Haaretz

Russia is deeply concerned about "Israel's continuing strikes against targets inside Syria," calling them "a crude violation of Syria's sovereignty," the spokeswoman of Russia's Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said on Thursday.

Zakhrova was quoted by the Russian News Agency TASS as saying that the strikes "may trigger a sharp escalation of tensions," and that they endanger international passenger flights.

Russia "systematically and resolutely opposes attempts to turn Syria into a scene of armed confrontation between third countries," Zakhrova added. "Once again we are insistently calling upon the Israeli side to refrain from such use of force."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova gestures during the briefing about foreign policy in Moscow, Russia, in January.Credit: /AP

Her statements come the day after an Israeli airstrike in Syrian territory, which came after a Syrian anti-aircraft missile exploded in Israeli skies. The Syrian missile, according to Syria's official news agency SANA, was fired in response to an Israeli airstrike. It was not clear what was targeted in the first strike, which Israel has not confirmed.

After the anti-aircraft missile triggered rocket warning sirens, Israeli military forces struck Syrian radar facility and anti-aircraft batteries, including, according to the Israel Defense Forces' spokesman, the one that launched missiles at Israeli planes. One Syrian soldier was killed and five others were wounded in the Israeli attack, SANA reported.

Russian forces have been present in Syria since 2015 when they helped turn the tide in a civil war in favor of President Bashar Assad. In January, witnesses and rebel sources said Russian jets have bombed areas near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, the last opposition-held bastion.

Syrian and Russian jets last month carried out their first joint patrol in the airspace along Syria's borders. The path of the group, which involved fighter, fighter-bomber and early warning and control aircraft, included the Golan Heights, the armistice line with Israel that has seen regular air strikes attributed to Israel against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah positions.

Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russia's President Vladimir Putin discussed security coordination in Syria in their October meeting in Sochi. An Israeli minister who attended the meeting hinted that Russia had agreed to let Israel operate freely against targets in Syria.

During their five-hour discussion, Putin demanded that Israel sharpen its coordination with Russia of strikes in Syria, and that Israel be "more precise," but there seemed to be little difference between Russian and Israeli positions on Syria.

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