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Israel Says It ‘Will Not Stop’ Attacking Iran in Syria, Escalates Military Campaign (www.newsweek.com)

The head of Israel’s military appears to have acknowledged the country’s involvement in recent strikes in Syria, warning a semi-secret campaign against Iran has escalated.

In a statement carried by a number of Israeli media outlets Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett stopped short of directly acknowledging his forces were behind airstrikes Monday near Damascus but stated that Israel has “moved from blocking Iran’s entrenchment in Syria to forcing it out of there, and we will not stop.”

“We will not allow more strategic threats to grow just across our borders without taking action,” he added, as translated by the Times of Israel. “We will continue to take the fight to the enemy’s territory.”

Bennett had hinted at new Israeli actions on Sunday, telling listeners of the 103FM radio station to stay tuned for reports of Israel intensifying its anti-Iran efforts in Syria.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that Monday that Israeli strikes killed three civilians in the Al-Adliya and Al-Hujaira, citing Quneitra Governor Hammam Dibbiyat. The United Kingdom-based, opposition-tied Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported on three civilian casualties in these same southern capital countryside areas, but could not determine whether they were the result of Israeli actions or shrapnel from Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

The monitor also said four individuals loyal to Iran and its allied Lebanese militia Hezbollah had been killed outside Damascus between Al-Kiswah and Sahnaya.

An image grab shows on November 20, 2019 reportedly shows Syrian air defense batteries responding to Israeli missiles targeting the southern outskirts of Damascus. Israel rarely claims responsibility for its actions across the border in Syria, but acknowledges that it actively targets positions there associated with Iran and its allies.
AFP/Getty Images

Less than a week before these strikes, Syrian air defenses again were activated in response to what Damascus said was an Israeli attack, this time over the skies of the central city of Palmyra. The Syrian Arab News Agency said the anti-air batteries successfully blocked a number of missiles, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported the deaths of nine individuals aligned to Iran and Hezbollah, three of whom were Syrians.

Tehran was an early supporter of longtime partner Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military efforts to quell a rebel and jihadi uprising backed by the United States and allies in the Middle East and Europe. Israel accused Iran and partnered paramilitary forces of establishing forward positions potentially capable of attacking Israel, however, and began its own intervention, conducting airstrikes and providing some support to insurgents.

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