by: Ilse Strauss
Monday, 1 March 2021 | Syrian state news agency SANA blamed Israel for an air strike last night in the capital Damascus and its southern suburbs, an area where Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah reportedly have a strong presence.
According to an unnamed military official quoted by SANA, Syrian anti-aircraft artillery managed to shoot down the majority of Israeli missiles before they could hit their mark—a regular boast which few believe.
In line with its standard policy, Israel neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. However, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said during a briefing on Friday that Israel takes action “almost weekly” to prevent Iran from burrowing into the Jewish state’s backyard in war-torn Syria.
Several Israeli news sources said last night’s strike came in answer to an explosion damaging an Israel-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman last week.
The MV Helios Ray, a Bahamian-flagged vessel owned by Tel Aviv-based Ray Shipping Ltd., was rocked by a mysterious blast on Friday as it made its way out of Middle East waters en route to Singapore. The crew sustained no injuries, but the blast ripped two holes on the vessel’s port side and two on its starboard side just above the waterline, US defense officials told the Associated Press.
Israeli officials ascribe the blast to Iranian sabotage. Targeting shipping vessels in the Strait of Hormuz is typical of Tehran’s modus operandi, with the US blaming the mullahs for attacks on two oil tankers in 2019. The latest incident involving an Israeli vessel has sparked renewed fears of flaring tensions between Iran and the US in one of the world’s most strategic shipping lanes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no doubt who is behind Friday’s attack. “It was indeed an act by Iran, that’s clear,” he told Israeli public broadcaster KAN. “Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel, I am determined to halt it.”
Both Gantz and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also blame Iran, with Kochavi calling the attack on the MV Helios Ray a “reminder” from Tehran.
Israel will, however, answer such “reminders” with a message of its own, Kochavi warned. “This is the place to reiterate that the IDF acts and will act against the threats that endanger [Israel], near and far.”
The alleged Israeli strike last night came three days after the US launched air strikes against Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria on Thursday. The first military operation under the Biden administration is in retaliation for rocket strikes on US targets in Iraq earlier last month in which one civilian contractor was killed and a US service member injured.
Posted on March 1, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, March 1, 2021)
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