Netanyahu confirms Israeli strike on Iran target in Syria

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the defense ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot speaks at a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the defense ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv

The Syrian army claimed that "Israeli warplanes coming from the direction of the Galilee fired several missiles toward the vicinity of Damascus" on Friday night.

Israel has traditionally refrained from publicizing military operations against Iranian-linked targets on its northern front, but has been lifting the veil in recent days, a sign of confidence in a campaign waged amid occasional tension with Syria's big-power backer, Russia.

"We worked with impressive success to block Iran's military entrenchment in Syria", Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

"In just the last 36 hours, the air force struck Iran's warehouses, containing Iranian arms, in Damascus worldwide airport", he added, referring to a Friday night sortie that Syria said it had answered with anti-aircraft fire.

"According to our assessments, there are no longer any tunnels crossing into Israel", he said, adding that Hezbollah retained some underground facilities on the Lebanese side. "During this time we worked together against varied threats in order to build up Israel's security", Netanyahu said.

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Ties between Israel and Lebanon further deteriorated after the IDF launched Operation Northern Shield in early December 2018, destroying suspected Hezbollah tunnels used to funnel militants and arms across the Israel-Lebanon border. He will be replaced on Tuesday by Maj.

The Israeli military said a sixth and final tunnel was found on Saturday, 55 metres (yards) deep and reaching "a few tens of metres" into Israel from 800 metres within Lebanon. "We will continue to monitor all activity by Hezbollah, and by Iran and its proxies".

However, Israel's outgoing military chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot revealed in a recent New York Times interview that Israel had "struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit". It said the Iranian-backed organization Hezbollah dug.

"We have achieved the goal that we set out to achieve a month and a half ago", he said.

Israel has pledged to prevent its enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria, where it is backing President Bashar Assad's regime alongside Russian Federation and Hezbollah. But with that war winding down, Israeli security officials fear Hezbollah is refocusing its attention on Israel.

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