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Israel Strikes Weapons Storage Day after US Espouses Support of anti-Iran Action in Syria

January 13, 2019 Special Feature, Syria

PM Netanyahu & US Secy. of State Pompeo. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Haim Zach / Israeli GPO

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday last week provided American backing for Israel’s efforts to prevent Iran from setting up a new base of operations in Syria. One day later, Israeli warplanes struck weapons storage facilities belonging to Iran, including a target at an international airport in Syria’s capital of Damascus. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the unusual position of claiming credit for the attack on Sunday.

“Israel attacked an Iranian weapons warehouse at the international airport in Damascus,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “This reflects our consistent policy and strong determination to prevent Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria. If necessary, we will step up these attacks.”

The Israeli strike follows Pompeo’s speech backing such action at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, which was republished by the State Department. Pompeo told the audience, “We strongly support Israel’s efforts to stop Tehran from turning Syria into the next Lebanon.”

Israel is sounding like they’ve taken that backing to heart. On Sunday, in separate comments also released by his office, Netanyahu noted that the attack last Friday shouldn’t surprise anyone. “The accumulation of recent attacks proves that we are determined more than ever to take action against Iran in Syria, just as we promised.”

While Israel has a history of not officially claiming responsibility for attacks in Syria, that has started to change in the last year. Syrian sources had already reported last week’s Israeli strike.

The regime-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) claimed that Syria’s air defense system shot down “most” of the Israeli missiles, according to a military source. The SANA report noted that the Israeli attack occurred during the night and caused “only material damage” to a weapons warehouse.

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)—which tracks various acts of violence in war-torn Syria—reported that Israel struck at multiple areas in Syria, including locations home to Hezbollah and Iran. SOHR reported that multiple warehouses and weapons belonging to Hezbollah and Iran were destroyed.

Israel isn’t the only nation wanting Iran to fully exit Syria. Pompeo, in last week’s speech, also noted that the Americans will “use diplomacy and work with our partners to expel every last Iranian boot [from Syria, and work through the UN-led process to bring peace and stability to the long-suffering Syrian people.”

He also said that Iran’s presence would cost Syria financial support from the US as well. Said the US Secretary of State, “There will be no US reconstruction assistance for areas of Syria held by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad until Iran and its proxy forces withdraw and until we see irreversible progress towards a political resolution.”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 13, 2019)

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