Israel reportedly launches airstrike against Syrian army

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Israel’s military conducted an airstrike against Syrian army positions early on Wednesday, Arab-language media reported, in the latest in a series of reported Israeli strikes in the south of the country in recent months.

In a report from Beirut, the pan-Arab al-Masdar news service quoted a Syrian Army source who said that an Israeli warplane had crossed into Syria from Lebanon and attacked in the Qalamoun Mountains, northeast of Damascus after 3am.

An Israel Defence Forces spokeswoman in Tel Aviv would not comment on the reported attack.

Israel has struck repeatedly inside Syria to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons from the Syrian military or its allies to Hizbollah, the south Lebanon-based Shia militant group, which is fighting on the side of government forces in the country’s war. In December and January, Syria accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes on the Mezzeh military air base in Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Wednesday’s reported strike comes at a time of heightened tension between Israel and Hizbollah. Sayeed Hassan Nasrallah, the group’s leader, on Monday warned Israel against waging war on Lebanon, saying that if one were to start, it would “not abide by red lines” regarding an attack on an ammonia storage facility in the northern city of Haifa and Israel’s suspected nuclear facility in Dimona, in the south.

Both Hizbollah and Israel, who last went to war in 2006, say they do not want a new one, but have warned that they would respond forcefully were one to start.

This week Yedioth Ahronoth, the Israeli newspaper, cited unnamed Western intelligence officials speaking at last week’s Munich Security Conference who it reported had said that Hizbollah had secured Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles, which Israel fears could threaten its shipping or offshore natural gas fields.

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