Israel strikes Syria, killing 3 troops, after finding bombs

Israel strikes Syria, killing 3 troops, after finding bombs”

Israeli warplanes struck Iran-linked targets in Syria overnight after troops uncovered roadside bombs along the frontier in the Golan Heights, the Israeli military said Wednesday.

Conricus said the timing of the strikes was unrelated to the arrival in Israel of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later Wednesday.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, on a visit to the northern border on Tuesday, said Israel would not tolerate the planting of explosives in the Golan, territory captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

A Syrian war monitoring group said the strikes killed 10, including the three Syrian soldiers and at least five Iranians.

The foreigners included five fighters who were "likely Iranian and belonging to the Quds force, as well as two pro-Iran fighters of undetermined nationality", the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Israel said it was retaliating for what it called an Iranian-sponsored operation in which Syrians planted explosives near an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights.

A military source, in a statement to SANA, said that " at about 03:11 a.m. on Wednesday, the Israeli enemy launched an aerial aggression from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan that targeted the southern region as the Syrian air defenses confronted it and downed a number of rockets".

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"It is apparent that the message that we wanted to convey last time wasn't clear enough, not to the Iranians and not to the Syrian regime", Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said. The Quds Force is the expeditionary wing of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers directly to the supreme leader. The IEDs - claymore anti-personnel charges - were placed by local Syrian forces at the instruction of the Quds Force, Conricus said.

In the wake of the incidents, the IDF increased its alert level in the north and reinforced the Iron Dome system anti-rocket defense system deployed on the Golan Heights, but now there is no change in the guidelines for Golan residents, Ynet reported.

He said they included three Iranian command centres - a headquarters in the Damascus airport, a Quds Force base in the headquarters of Syria's seventh army division and a "secret military site which served as a hosting facility for senior Iranian delegations".

The tensions between Israel and Iran have heightened after their repeated confrontations in Syria, and the Israeli opposition to Iranian and Iranian-backed Hezbollah entrenchment near the Golan Heights in Syria and recent tensions, since July, with Hezbollah in Lebanon. "We stand prepared to operate against Iranian entrenchment in Syria". Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country's civil war and has dispatched military advisers and allied militias to aid his forces.

Israeli experts have said Netanyahu is concerned that the president-elect, Obama's former vice president, will seek to re-engage Iran diplomatically, possibly by restoring the 2015 nuclear deal Trump pulled the United States out of.

The deal was condemned as a betrayal by Iran and its regional allies.

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