Israel confirms strikes against military sites in Syria

Above, Israeli soldiers and armored vehicles near the border with Syria in the annexed Golan Heights. Israel confirmed it launched air raids against military site in the Syrian capital of Damascus. (AFP)
Updated 20 November 2019

Israel confirms strikes against military sites in Syria

  • Strikes were in response to the rockets fired at Israel
  • State media earlier said Syrian anti-aircraft defenses intercepted a ‘heavy attack’ over the capital Damascus

The Israeli army confirmed it carried out strikes on Syrian and Iranian “terror targets” near Damascus on Wednesday, in response to fire from Syria the day before.

The Israel Defense Forces, who blamed Tuesday’s rockets on “an Iranian force,” said it holds Damascus responsible for attacks launched from Syria into its territory.

Syria’s state media earlier said Syrian anti-aircraft defenses intercepted a “heavy attack” by Israeli warplanes over the capital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Israel has carried out frequent air and missile strikes against Iranian targets inside Syria since the country descended into civil war in 2011, but rarely comments on them.

“We just carried out wide-scale strikes of Iranian Quds Force & Syrian Armed Forces targets in Syria in response to the rockets fired at Israel by an Iranian force in Syria last night,” the Israel Defense Forces tweeted.

During the attack the Syrian government’s defense missile was fired “despite clear warnings to refrain from such fire,” it added. As a result, a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed.

“We hold the Syrian regime responsible for the actions that take place in Syrian territory and warn them against allowing further attacks against Israel,” the army said.

“We will continue operating firmly and for as long as necessary against the Iranian entrenchment in Syria.”

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard several large explosions in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

“Our air defense confronted the heavy attack and intercepted the hostile missiles, and was able to destroy most of them before reaching their targets,” Syria’s SANA news agency quoted a military source as saying.

SANA added that the aggression was carried out from “Lebanese and Palestinian territories.” Israel sometimes launches its attacks on Syria from planes flying over neighboring Lebanon.

Triggered by the repression of demonstrations by President Bashar Assad, the Syrian conflict has been complicated by the involvement of foreign powers.

Wednesday’s air raid comes a day after Israel’s defenses intercepted four rockets fired from Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday’s rockets were fired from positions around the capital held by groups loyal to the Damascus government.

The flare-up follows a major escalation in and around Gaza last week when Israel carried out the targeted killing of a top commander of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which is allied with Damascus.

The killing was accompanied by a second strike, unconfirmed by Israel, on an Islamic Jihad leader in Damascus that killed his son and another person.

The hundreds of strikes carried out by Israel in Syria have mostly been against Iranian targets or positions of Iran’s Lebanese ally, Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Both are sworn enemies of the Jewish state and both have backed the Syrian president’s forces with advisers or fighters.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.


Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

Updated 23 January 2021

Hundreds protest police repression in Tunisia

  • Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic
  • The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14

TUNIS: Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Tunisian cities on Saturday to protest police repression, corruption and poverty, following several nights of unrest marked by clashes and arrests.
Saturday’s protests come as the North African nation struggles to stem the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has crippled the economy and threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
Over 6,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Tunisia, with a record 103 deaths reported on Thursday.
The government on Saturday extended a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to 5 a.m. and banned gatherings until February 14.
But protesters took to the streets in several parts of the country, including the capital Tunis and the marginalized interior region of Gafsa, to demand the release of hundreds of young people detained during several nights of unrest since January 14.
“Neither police nor Islamists, the people want revolution,” chanted demonstrators in a crowd of several hundred in Tunis, where one person was wounded in brief clashes amid a heavy police presence.
Protests were also held in the coastal city of Sfax on Friday.
Much of the unrest has been in working class neighborhoods, where anger is boiling over soaring unemployment and a political class accused of having failed to deliver good governance, a decade after the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Economic misery exacerbated by novel coronavirus restrictions in the tourism-reliant nation have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to try to leave the country.
“The situation is catastrophic,” said Omar Jawadi, 33, a hotel sales manager, who has been paid only half his salary for months.
“The politicians are corrupt, we want to change the government and the system.”
The police have said more than 700 people were arrested over several nights of unrest earlier this week that saw young people hurl rocks and petrol bombs at security forces, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.
Human rights groups on Thursday said at least 1,000 people had been detained.
“Youth live from day to day, we no longer have hope, neither to work nor to study — and they call us troublemakers!” said call center worker Amine, who has a degree in aerospace engineering.
“We must listen to young people, not send police in by the thousands. The whole system is corrupt, a few families and their supporters control Tunisia’s wealth.”
Tunisia last week marked one decade since Ben Ali fled the country amid mass protests, ending 23 years in power.
Tunisia’s political leadership is divided, with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi waiting for parliament to confirm a major cabinet reshuffle announced last Saturday.