Is­rael con­firms strikes on Syria tar­gets

Le­banon bor­der mis­sion ends; army says tun­nels by Hezbol­lah de­stroyed

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukeewisconsin - Aron Heller

JERUSALEM – Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on Sun­day con­firmed that Is­rael has struck hun­dreds of Ira­nian and Hezbol­lah tar­gets in Syria, in­clud­ing a weapons fa­cil­ity in a week­end airstrike, as the mil­i­tary an­nounced the dis­cov­ery of a sixth and fi­nal tun­nel dug by the Le­banese mil­i­tant group for cross-bor­der at­tacks.

The state­ments marked a rare, pub­lic ac­knowl­edg­ment of Is­raeli at­tacks against Hezbol­lah and its pa­tron Iran in neigh­bor­ing Syria, where Is­rael is long be­lieved to have tar­geted Ira­nian weapons ship­ments to the Le­banese Shi­ite group. How­ever, Is­rael has un­til now gen­er­ally re­frained from com­ment­ing about the strikes for fear of trig­ger­ing a re­ac­tion and be­ing drawn into the deadly fight­ing in neigh­bor­ing Syria’s civil war.

At his weekly Cab­i­net meet­ing, Ne­tanyahu pub­licly con­firmed the strike as he thanked out­go­ing mil­i­tary chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot for long years of ser­vice and par­tic­u­larly his mar­shal­ing of Is­rael’s shad­owy cam­paign against Iran in re­cent years.

“We have op­er­ated with im­pres­sive suc­cess in thwart­ing Iran from es­tab­lish­ing a mil­i­tary foothold in Syria, in the frame­work of which the mil­i­tary has struck hun­dreds of times against Ira­nian and Hezbol­lah tar­gets,” Ne­tanyahu said. “In the last 36 hours alone, the air force struck stor­age fa­cil­i­ties with Ira­nian weapons at the Da­m­as­cus In­ter­na­tional Air­port. The bulk of re­cent at­tacks show how we are more com­mit­ted than ever to act against Iran in Syria, as we promised.”

Cou­pled with the an­nounce­ment that af­ter Sun­day’s dis­cov­ery, Is­rael was wrap­ping up its op­er­a­tion to de­stroy Hezbol­lah’s tun­nel net­work into Is­rael, the week­end strike in Syria is widely seen as Eisenkot’s “part­ing shot” as his four-year ten­ure as mil­i­tary chief ends. He will be re­placed on Tues­day by Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

The pow­er­ful Shi­ite Hezbol­lah group, which acts in­de­pen­dently in Le­banon, has yet to com­ment on the tun­nels.

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