Gallant vows to block Iran, Hezbollah in Syria after alleged Israeli airstrikes

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Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned Iran and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group on Sunday that Israel would not accept any attempts to harm the country or its citizens. The comments came after a series of airstrikes in Syria that the Syrian government blamed on Israel, and warnings from Iran about the attacks.

“We have tension on all fronts,” Gallant said in a pre-Passover toast to soldiers in the West Bank’s Etzion Brigade, saying Iran was trying to advance in the territory.

“The Iranians are extending their reach into Judea and Samaria and Gaza, and they are trying to entrench themselves in Syria and Lebanon,” Gallant said. “We will not let the Iranians or Hezbollah harm us. We have not allowed it in the past, we will not allow it now, or at any time in the future.”

“If necessary, we will push them out of Syria to where they belong – and that is Iran,” he said.

Gallant did not mention that he was sacked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week — although an official letter informing him of his dismissal has yet to arrive, leaving him in limbo, with some in the government lobbying to return.

Top security officials have warned that the Netanyahu government’s policies are threatening Israel’s security by opening schisms in the militarized society, undermining trust in the government, scrambling the security forces’ chain of command, and severing ties with the US and other allies.

This photo released by ImageSat International on April 2, 2023, shows damage to al-Dabaa airport in Syria after airstrikes attributed to Israel a day earlier. (ImageSat International)

Also on Sunday, Israel’s intelligence and imagery company, ImageSat International, published images it said showed damage to the Syrian military airport at al-Dabaa near Homs in an alleged airstrike the previous night. the second in two days.

ImageSat said the airstrike likely targeted Iran-backed Hezbollah drone activity, destroying an aircraft shed, a UAV communications station and a communications vehicle. Syria said five soldiers were wounded.

Western intelligence sources told Reuters that the strikes hit a series of air bases in central Syria, where Iranian personnel are based.

Iran said on Sunday that a second member of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) died of injuries sustained in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria on Friday.

“Meqdad Meqdani was wounded during a Zionist attack at dawn on Friday and killed,” the semi-official Mehr news agency said, adding that he was a military adviser to the IRGC. Another IRGC adviser, Milad Heydari, was also killed in the strike.

Israeli soldiers on the border between Lebanon and Israel, March 15, 2023. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The IRGC threatened to avenge the incident, saying: “Undoubtedly the Zionist regime will find an answer for this crime.”

Several Israeli media outlets reported unconfirmed assessments that the string of airstrikes in Syria – three out of four consecutive nights – could be linked to a suspected Hezbollah bombing last month near Megiddo in northern Israel, which Jerusalem believes was carried out terrorists who crossed the Lebanese border. fence using a ladder. One man was seriously injured in the attack.

Although many details of the Megiddo bombing investigation are under a publication ban, Haaretz cited speculation that the series of airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria could indicate IRGC involvement in the latest security incidents.

As a general rule, the Israeli military does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, but they have admitted that they have carried out hundreds of sorties over the past decade against Iranian-backed groups trying to gain a foothold in the country.

The IDF says it also attacks weapons shipments believed to be bound for those groups, including Hezbollah. In addition, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

The latest alleged airstrikes followed two attacks in recent weeks against Aleppo International Airport, which have also been blamed on Israel. The attacks temporarily closed the airport’s runway. Also this month, Israel carried out a rare daytime strike against targets in northwestern Syria, injuring three soldiers and causing damage, Syria’s SANA news agency said.

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