IS­RAELI PLANES HIT TAR­GETS IN SYRIA

Tel Aviv de­nies that one of it’s jets has been shot down by Syr­ian mis­siles

New Straits Times - - World -

TEL AVIV

IS­RAELI war­planes struck sev­eral tar­gets in Syria early yes­ter­day, prompt­ing re­tal­ia­tory mis­sile launches, in the most se­ri­ous in­ci­dent be­tween the two coun­tries since the Syr­ian civil war be­gan six years ago.

Syria’s mil­i­tary said it had downed an Is­raeli plane and hit an­other as they were car­ry­ing out pre-dawn strikes near the famed desert city of Palmyra that it re­cap­tured from ji­hadists this month.

“Our air de­fence en­gaged them and shot down one war­plane over oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory, hit an­other one, and forced the rest to flee,” the army said.

The Is­raeli army de­nied any planes had been struck.

“(Our) air­craft was at no point com­pro­mised,” army spokesman Peter Lerner said.

The Is­raeli air force said ear­lier that it had car­ried out sev­eral strikes on Syria overnight, but that none of the ground-to-air mis­siles fired by Syr­ian forces in re­sponse had hit Is­raeli air­craft.

It was an un­usual con­fir­ma­tion by the Jewish state of air raids in­side Syria.

“Overnight... air­craft tar­geted sev­eral tar­gets in Syria,” an Is­raeli army state­ment said.

“Sev­eral anti-air­craft mis­siles were launched from Syria fol­low­ing the mis­sion and (army) aerial de­fence sys­tems in­ter­cepted one of the mis­siles.”

One mis­sile was in­ter­cepted north of Jerusalem by Is­rael’s Ar­row air de­fence sys­tem.

Both Is­raeli and for­eign me­dia have re­ported a number of Is­raeli airstrikes in­side Syria tar­get­ing arms con­voys of Le­banese mil­i­tant group Hizbollah, which fought a dev­as­tat­ing 2006 war with Is­rael and is now fight­ing along­side the Da­m­as­cus regime.

The mis­sile fire prompted air raid sirens to go off in the Jor­dan Val­ley dur­ing the night.

In April last year, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ad­mit­ted for the first time that Is­rael had at­tacked dozens of con­voys trans­port­ing weapons in Syria des­tined for Hizbollah.

Is­rael and Syria are still tech­ni­cally at war, though the bor­der had re­mained largely quiet for decades un­til 2011 when the Syr­ian con­flict broke out. AFP

Steed said an un­known number of peo­ple had been in­jured in the ex­change of gun­fire.

At the time the tanker was taken it was forced to change course and head to­ward Punt­land. The Aris 13 was about 18km off the So­mali coast when it was at­tacked, ac­cord­ing to Steed.

He said the ves­sel was not fol­low­ing the “best prac­tices” put in place to avoid piracy, since it was tak­ing a cost- and time-sav­ing route too close to So­ma­lia’s coast­line, was trav­el­ling too slowly and was with­out armed es­cort.

Vil­lage el­ders in Alula where the hi­jacked ves­sel first docked, said the pi­rates had not made clear de­mands, but claimed to be driven by anger over il­le­gal fish­ing. AFP

AP PIC

A rel­a­tive of a crew mem­ber in a ship that was cap­tured by So­mali pi­rates on Mon­day cry­ing dur­ing a meet­ing with Sri Lankan ship­ping au­thor­i­ties in Colombo on Thurs­day. The pi­rates have re­leased the ship and its crew.

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