Syria accuses Israel of air strikes near capital
DAMASCUS // Israeli warplanes carried out two airstrikes near Damascus on Sunday, one near the city’s international airport and a second outside Dimas, a town close to the Lebanese border, Syria’s state news agency said.
Sana called the attack “an aggression against Syria” and said there were no reports of casualties. The Israeli military said it did not comment on “foreign reports”.
No details were provided on what was hit in either strike.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, said the strike near the airport hit a warehouse, although it was unclear what was in the building.
The Observatory also said that up to 10 explosions could be heard outside a military area near Dimas. It had no information on any casualties from either strike.
Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria since the revolt against president Bashar Al Assad began in March 2011. Most have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hizbollah.
The Syrian army reiterated its claim that Israel was helping the rebels seeking to topple Mr Al Assad.
“This direct aggression by Israel was carried out to help the terrorists in Syria, after our armed forces secured important victories in Deir Ezzor, Aleppo and elsewhere,” the army said.
“This proves Israel’s direct support for terrorism in Syria,” it added, using the regime’s term to refer to peaceful opponents, moderate rebels and extremists fighting in the country’s civil war.
Earlier in the day government warplanes carried out at least eight strikes against ISIL militants, the Observatory said, successfully repelling an attack from the group on a key military airbase outside the city of Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.
“Troops and pro-regime militia stopped the attack that Islamic State launched on the ... airport,” the Observatory said, referring to ISIL by its self-declared name. It said that both sides had suffered heavy losses since the group launched its assault on the airbase last week.
For ISIL, seizing control of the site would eliminate the last significant government presence in the area and provide a major moral and propaganda boost.
Over in Iraq, ISIL fighters executed 12 Shiite militiamen north of Baghdad after heavy fighting for control of a rural village, security sources said yesterday.
Army and police officials said Iraqi security forces and the Shiite militia fighters launched an attack on Friday against ISIL militants on Tal Al Thahab, 80 kilometres north of Baghdad.
They managed to drive the militants from their base in the village’s police station on Friday, but hours later ISIL fighters returned and surrounded it, trapping dozens of security forces and militiamen inside.
“Supporting troops with cover from army helicopter reached the area and managed to break the siege. We have confirmation from our sources that 12 volunteer fighters were executed on Saturday by terrorists,” said an army intelligence officer.
Officials said more Shiite militia fighters were gathering in Balad, which houses a shrine to a revered Shiite imam, to try to drive out ISIL militants from areas surrounding the town.
* Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters
Published: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM