Lieberman: Israeli strike in Syria prevented transfer of weapons of mass destruction to Hezbollah

Defense Minister confirms strikes in Syria Wednesday; Reports strike was to prevent transfer of sophisticated weapons & WMD’s to Hezbollah

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Israel’ Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed that Israel did carry out strikes on the Almaza Air Base near Damascus early Wednesday morning.

Speaking to European Union envoys currently in Israel, Lieberman confirmed that Israel carried out the attack to prevent the shipment of sophisticated weapons and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah.

Lieberman stated on Wednesday afternoon that “ We [Israel] act primarily to protect the safety of our citizens and defend our sovereignty, and we’re trying to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah.”

Israel typically does not confirm or comment on covert operations carried out in Syria.

This morning, mixed reports from Arab media claimed the strike was a surface-to-surface missile strike, other reports claiming the Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes from Lebanese air space.

Lieberman did not give specifics of the operation.

Watch Amir’s LIVE update below:

 

Report: IDF attacked Damascus military airbase Wednesday

Explosions on Syrian army air base overnight Wednesday; Reports of surface-to-surface strike; Hezbollah media denies IDF responsible for explosions

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The IDF reportedly carried out an attack on the Almaza Air Base near Damascus overnight Wednesday.

According to reports from Hezbollah and Syrian military sources, Israel launched strikes around 3:00 am on the Almaza Air Base west of Damascus. Explosions on the military airport were reported by numerous sources in the early hours of the morning Wednesday.

As with all covert Israeli operations, the IDF refused to confirm or comment on the reports. Mixed reports from Arab media claimed the strike was a surface-to-surface missile strike, other reports claiming the Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes from Lebanese air space.

Syria’s SANA news agency reported that “At 3:00 a.m. the Israeli enemy fired several surface-to-surface missiles from inside occupied territory [Golan Heights] … as a desperate attempt to support the terrorist groups,” referring to Syrian rebel forces against Assad’s regime.

Videos and photos of the explosions surfaced through out the media on Wednesday, the Hezbollah supported news agency Al Mayadeen denying Israel was responsible, claiming the explosions were a result of a fire and not strikes.

Last week, the IDF carried out strikes in Syria on Monday a day after ISIS-affiliated terrorists opened fire on IDF soldiers on the Syrian-Israeli border in the Golan Heights. The IDF returned fire, killing four ISIS terrorists. That evening the IDF carried out airstrikes on an ISIS terror cell to prevent “the terrorists from returning to the facility and becoming a substantial threat in the area”.

One day following, the Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes near Damascus targeting a Hezbollah arms convoy as well as a Syrian army arsenal.

Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear that Israel will not allow any threat on its borders stating following the operations “We are well prepared on our northern border and will not allow Islamic State elements or any other hostile elements to use the war in Syria to establish themselves close to our borders. We will not let Islamic State operatives, or other operatives under the auspices of the Syrian war, establish themselves along our borders.”

 

 

 

 

 

Israel’s ambassador to Turkey presents credentials to Erdogan

Following six years of severed ties, Israeli ambassador to Turkey begins post; Turkish counterpart to begin post in Tel Aviv in coming weeks

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Israel reinstated its ambassador to Turkey on Monday, the first ambassador to Ankara since severed ties between Israel and Turkey from 2010.

Ambassador Eitan Naeh presented his credentials to Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Monday in Ankara. Ambassador Naeh began his post last week and had previously worked for the Israeli embassy in Ankara from 1993 until 1997.

Naeh stated on his appointment “I am very happy to be back in Turkey as ambassador. We have a lot of work to do.” He thanked Turkey for its assistance during the firefighters in Israel in November. Turkey acted as a first responder, sending a firefighting aircraft on November 24th to northern Israel to assist in efforts. Naeh thanked Turkey, stating “I want to thank Turkey for the support and the aid it sent Israel fighting fires last week. We have a history of helping each other.”

On the future of Turkey-Israel relations, Naeh stated “We will build the relations, continue the cooperation that already exists, identify areas of cooperation where we will want to cooperate… everything step after step.”

The diplomatic resolve is a result of the Turkey-Israel reconciliation agreement from June of this year. The agreement serves as an end to severed ties and was introduced and approved by the Turkish Parliament in August 2016.

Mid-November, Erdogan approved the appointment of Turkey’s Ambassador to Israel, Kemal Okem. He is expected to begin his post by the end of this year.

 

 

Russian fighter jet crash and aircraft carrier disrupts Mediterranean air traffic

Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon affected by carrier; Accident Monday results in alternative air routes and closure of regional airspaces

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A Russian military aircraft that crashed taking off an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea off the shores of Syria caused major disruption in the region’s air traffic Monday.

A Su-33 fighter jet skid off the deck on Monday and was lost at sea. It is the second such incident in the past month, a MiG-29 fighter jet crashing due to technical issues on November 14.

The Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, arrived to Syria’s ports two weeks ago, the recent accident causing the closure of all flights to and from Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon.

The Admiral Kuznetsov was deployed to assist Assad’s regime with military aid.

The incident resulted in alternative air routes in Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon’s airspace. The aircraft carrier’s presence alone has resulted in weeks of remapping of air routes and delays. The closures in airspace and changes in air routes are reportedly set until December 24, 2016.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident and reported that “The Russian air carrier deployment continues its operation in the Mediterranean Sea as planned. Flights of aviation on board continue in accordance with relevant tasks.”

 

Israel, Cyprus and Greece to hold second trilateral meeting on Thursday

Second trilateral committee meeting to be held on Thursday in Jerusalem; Meeting to center on gas pipeline as well as strategic cooperation in varied fields, from security to agriculture

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Israel, Cyprus and Greece will hold its second trilateral summit on Thursday, the second of such meetings in the past year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Prime Ministers Anastasiades and Tsipras in Jerusalem on Thursday, their last meeting held in January. According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting will center on increasing strategic cooperation in the areas of energy, tourism, technology, research/academia, water management, and global terrorism. The main topic of discussion will be the gas pipeline and export of Israel’s gas to Europe.

Israel continues negotiations and talks with neighboring states on becoming the region’s latest, yet strongest player in natural gas. Israel is currently in talks with Egypt, Turkey and Jordan, as well as Greece and Cyprus.

The trilateral committee was established in January of this year, as a means to “to strengthen the cooperation between our three countries in order to promote a trilateral partnership in different fields of common interest and to work together towards promoting peace, stability, security and prosperity in the Mediterranean and the wider region.”

Following the establishment of the committee in Jerusalem this year, all three leaders released a joint statement describing the efforts and goals of the committee. They stated “Our partnership is not exclusive in design or nature, and we are ready to welcome other like-minded actors to join our efforts to promote coordination and cooperation, as well as regional peace and stability. We agree to work closely together with a view to strengthening our cooperation on common projects, involving both public and private actors. In particular, we are examining practical means of cooperating and implementing joint projects and synergies in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration.”

Both Cyprus and Greece provided assistance during Israel’s fires in November as part of agreements made between the three states. Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to highlight the humanitarian aid and efforts of both states.