Syria shoots downs ‘most of Is­raeli mis­siles’ fired to­wards Damascus

Tehran Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Syr­ian air de­fenses have man­aged to de­stroy most of the mis­siles fired by Is­raeli war­planes to­ward the cap­i­tal Da­m­as­cus, Syr­ian state me­dia say.

“The re­sults of the ag­gres­sion so far were lim­ited to a strike on one of the ware­houses at Da­m­as­cus air­port,” the coun­try’s SANA news agency re­ported, quot­ing an un­named mil­i­tary source as say­ing.

The source fur­ther said that the ag­gres­sion oc­curred at 11:15 p.m. lo­cal time on Fri­day, adding, “Eight en­emy tar­gets spot­ted in the skies of Da­m­as­cus ex­ploded.”

Ac­cord­ing to the mil­i­tary source, the Syr­ian air de­fenses were “im­me­di­ately” en­gaged overnight af­ter a num­ber of Is­raeli fighter jets came “from the di­rec­tion of the Galilee (and) fired sev­eral mis­siles to­wards the vicin­ity of Da­m­as­cus.”

SANA fur­ther quoted an un­named Min­istry of Trans­port of­fi­cial as say­ing that the Da­m­as­cus In­ter­na­tional Air­port traf­fic was nor­mal and that it was not af­fected by the Is­raeli ag­gres­sion.

The Is­raeli regime launches airstrikes on the Syr­ian ter­ri­tory from time to time, ag­gres­sive moves usu­ally viewed as at­tempts to prop up ter­ror­ist groups that have been suf­fer­ing de­feats at the hands of Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces.

In Oc­to­ber, Moscow equipped Da­m­as­cus with the ad­vanced S-300 sur­face-toair mis­siles, days af­ter Is­raeli fighter jets at­tacked Syr­ian tar­gets us­ing a Rus­sian surveil­lance plane flying nearby as a shield and hence mis­lead­ing the Syr­ian air de­fenses to shoot it down.

Since then Is­rael has been very care­ful with its op­er­a­tion over Syria.

It is not yet clear whether the S-300s were among the air de­fense sys­tems used in the Fri­day night coun­ter­at­tacks.

■ Western-backed White Hel­mets still in Jor­dan, ac­tive in Syria provo­ca­tions: Rus­sia

Mean­time, Rus­sia has warned that mem­bers of the White Hel­mets vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion are still in Jor­dan af­ter their with­drawal from Syria as their Western spon­sors are re­luc­tant to re­set­tle the so­called aid work­ers.

Rus­sia’s For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Maria Zakharova told a me­dia brief­ing on Fri­day that the White Hel­mets had been promised shel­ter in European coun­tries, but “the mat­ter has not been re­solved so far.”

“Clearly, the West is not ready to wel­come those who were in­volved in se­ri­ous crimes,” she added.

The White Hel­mets claims to be a hu­man­i­tar­ian NGO, but it has been ac­cused of work­ing with anti-Da­m­as­cus ter­ror­ists and stag­ing false-flag chem­i­cal weapons at­tacks in Syria.

Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad de­scribed the White Hel­mets as “a branch of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra” mil­i­tant out­fits and a “PR stunt” by the United Sj­tates, Bri­tain and France.

Western coun­tries de­cided last year to res­cue White Hel­mets mem­bers amid stepped-up ter­ri­to­rial gains made by the Syr­ian army against Tak­firi ter­ror­ists.

Last July, hun­dreds of White Hel­mets vol­un­teers and their fam­ily mem­bers were evac­u­ated from Syria to Is­rael and then to Jor­dan, to be re­set­tled later in Bri­tain, Canada, and Ger­many.

Else­where in her re­marks, Zakharova said that a group of White Hel­mets still re­mains in Jor­dan.

“They are ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in provo­ca­tions staged in Syria, and they also co­op­er­ated with ter­ror­ists,” she noted.

The Rus­sian of­fi­cial fur­ther stressed that the White Hel­mets’ spon­sors are afraid of the threat posed by the group to their own cit­i­zens.

“Sup­port­ing in­sti­ga­tors in a for­eign coun­try is one thing, but wel­com­ing them on your own ter­ri­tory is quite an­other mat­ter, as it cre­ates threats for your cit­i­zens,” she said. “It is also pos­si­ble that once out of the Mid­dle East, some White Hel­mets mem­bers would be ready to tell the truth about their ac­tiv­i­ties in Syria. Their spon­sors are def­i­nitely not in­ter­ested in that.”

The White Hel­mets was founded in Turkey in 2013 by for­mer Bri­tish MI5 of­fi­cer James Le Mesurier.

Since its es­tab­lish­ment, the group has re­ceived at least $55 mil­lion from the Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice, $23 mil­lion or more from the U.S. Of­fice of Tran­si­tion Ini­tia­tives and un­told mil­lions from Qatar.

■ Bri­tish-made arms un­cov­ered in Syria

Sep­a­rately on Fri­day, the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces dis­cov­ered weapons and mu­ni­tions, some of them man­u­fac­tured in Bri­tain, and ve­hi­cles be­long­ing to the White Hel­mets dur­ing a clean-up op­er­a­tion in the western coun­try­side of Da­m­as­cus and Quneitra prov­inces.

Syria’s of­fi­cial SANA news agency re­ported that the arms had been left be­hind by the ter­ror­ists.

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