Syria Retaliates Against Israeli Airstrikes as Tensions Escalate

An Israeli F-15 fighter flies over a military base near Mitzpe Ramon. File pic

An Israeli F-15 fighter flies over a military base near Mitzpe Ramon. File pic

An Israeli drone on Sunday reportedly struck a vehicle on a road in Syria between the suburbs of Quneitra near the Israeli border and Damascus, killing the driver, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

According to reports on Syrian opposition websites, Assayed was a senior officer in country's air defense system.

Observers saw Russian Federation summoning the ambassador as a message from Moscow echoing its control over Syria or areas that are still under the control of Bashar al Assad.

Israel's "Arrow" anti-missile defense system shot down the Syrian missile, making it the first time the system was put to use.

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Or, in light of last week's meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at coordinating strategic interests and actions in Syria, perhaps Damascus felt the need to protest too much clarity between its Russian patron and its Israeli enemy.

Netanyahu's statement came after Israeli warplanes struck several targets within Syria, and Syria fired missiles back in retaliation.

Rima Khalaf, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), resigned from the UN post after refusing to withdraw a report that concludes "Israel has established an apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole". The Iran-backed group is sworn to Israel's destruction and fought a month-long war with the Jewish state in 2006.

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Early Friday morning, Israeli jets hit an arms transfer meant for Hezbollah near Palmyra, with Syrian air defenses firing missiles at the planes.

"When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally possible, we will act to stop it", said Netanyahu. Air force officials said the jets were attacked three Syrian surface-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted by the Israeli Aerial Defence System known as "Arrow". But the Israeli military denied the claim, saying there was no sign that any of their jets had been damaged in any way.

"That's how it was yesterday and that's how we shall continue to act", he added.

A more likely scenario, several experts here said, is that the Syrian regime was so incensed by yet another successful Israeli air attack on its soil that it fired off a Scud-type ballistic missile to make a point. Iran claims Hezbollah are fighting Isis, but Israel is concerned that advanced weaponry may be used against it.

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