Is­raeli air raids kill 5 civil­ians, 1 soldier: Syria

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY AL­BERT AJI

Is­rael’s air force car­ried out a drone strike in south­ern Syria on Fri­day, killing five peo­ple, while a soldier was killed and seven wounded in an air raid overnight, Syr­ian state TV re­ported.

The Is­raeli mil­i­tary did not com­ment on the re­ported ca­su­al­ties but said it car­ried out a raid Fri­day morn­ing on “part of the terror cell re­spon­si­ble for the rocket fire at north­ern Is­rael.”

Four rock­ets ex­ploded in an open field in north­ern Galilee on Thurs­day, spark­ing small fires but caus­ing no in­juries. It was the first time since the 1973 Mideast war that rock­ets from Syr­ian ter­ri­tory have slammed into Is­rael. There was no im­me­di­ate claim of re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Syr­ian state TV said the Is­raeli drone strike Fri­day tar­geted a “civil­ian car” close to a busy mar­ket in the vil­lage of Kom, killing five. Quneitra gover­nor Ah­mad Sheikh Ab­dul-Qader said the at­tack hap­pened on the road lead­ing to the vil­lage of Khan Arn­abeh, near Kom, and de­stroyed the car.

Is­rael said it had cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that Iran, a key backer of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, was be­hind Thurs­day’s rocket at­tack.

An Is­raeli mil­i­tary of­fi­cial and a for­eign min­istry spokesman said a com­man­der who heads the Pales­tinian di­vi­sion of Iran’s elite Quds Force, iden­ti­fied as Saeed Izodi, or­ches­trated the at­tack that was car­ried out by the Is­lamic Ji­had group.

“The mil­i­tary struck the cell that car­ried out the shoot­ing and the Syr­ian forces that al­lowed it. We have no in­ten­tion of es­ca­lat­ing events,” Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said.

But he added: “Those coun­tries that are quick to em­brace Iran should know that it was an Ira­nian com­man­der who en­dorsed and di­rected the cell that fired at Is­rael.”

In Gaza, the Is­lamic Ji­had group de­nied in­volve­ment in the at­tack

Syr­ian state TV re­ported that the Is­raeli air raid overnight hap­pened just be­fore mid­night in the south­ern re­gion of Quneitra, killing a soldier and wound­ing seven.

State news agency SANA re­ported late Thurs­day that an Is­raeli he­li­copter launched sev­eral mis­siles on Quneitra in the evening. It said the mis­siles hit the Trans­porta­tion Di­rec­torate and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Build­ing.

Syr­ian TV, mean­while, said the air raids aimed to “boost the morale of ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions,” claim­ing that Is­rael is back­ing mil­i­tants in the area.

Is­rael and Syria are bit­ter en­e­mies. Is­rael has avoided tak­ing sides in the Syr­ian civil war, which pits Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment against an ar­ray of mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing the bru­tal Is­lamic State group.

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