Liberman: Weekend rocket fire deliberate, directed by Nasrallah

Israel has largely stayed out of the six-year Syrian civil war.

October 23, 2017 18:06
2 minute read.
Rebel fighters fire mortar shells towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Quneitra

Rebel fighters fire mortar shells towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar Assad in Quneitra province, bordering the Golan Heights, Syria June 24, 2017.. (photo credit: ALAA AL-FAKIR / REUTERS)


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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday rocket fire from Syria over the weekend was deliberately carried out by a local Hezbollah cell instructed by the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, and called on the Russian forces in the region to rein in the Shi’ite terrorist group.

“It was not a leakage but a deliberate attack by a local cell operated by Hezbollah” he said, adding that it had been “personally instructed by Nasrallah in order to compartmentalize the Assad regime.”

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction, Liberman said the five projectiles fired from Syria toward Israel on Saturday were “directed and deliberate firing carried out by Hezbollah with Assad’s permission in an attempt to draw us into the Syrian conflict.”

Liberman said he hopes all parties involved are responsible enough to prevent further escalation and will take all necessary steps to do so.

“We call on the Assad regime, which we consider responsible for everything that happens on Syrian soil, especially today when it controls 90% of its territory, and the Russian forces who are there to restrain Hezbollah,” Liberman said.

The IDF retaliated on Saturday by hitting three Syrian regime artillery positions after three of the five projectiles landed in open territory in the northern Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries.

The border with Syria has been tense since the civil war erupted in 2011. Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, and stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish State.

Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role the Islamic Republic plays in the war-torn country.

While Saturday’s projectiles followed errant rockets that had struck open fields on the Golan Heights earlier last week, Channel 2 reported Saturday night that the IDF believed Saturday’s were deliberate, especially because they fell deeper inside the Golan Heights.

Following the rocket fire, the IDF warned: “Even if this is spillover, this is an exceptional event and the continuation of such events will only exacerbate Israel’s response.”

Last week, Liberman met with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss the Jewish State’s ongoing concerns regarding Iran’s presence in Syria. Shoigu is reported to have told Israel that Moscow has expressed willingness to extend a 10-15 kilometer off-limits zone where Iranian and Hezbollah forces will not be allowed to enter.

Hours before Shoigu landed in Israel, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft missile battery stationed some 50 kilometers east of Damascus that had fired on Israeli planes in Lebanese airspace earlier that morning.

Following the incident, Iran’s military chief Maj.-Gen.

Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, who was in Damascus on an official visit, warned Israel against violating Syrian airspace, saying “it is not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate Syria anytime it wants.”

On Saturday, Syria and Iran signed a Memorandum of Understanding to broaden and develop military cooperation and coordination between the two armies.

According to SANA, the Syrian Arab News Agency, the MoU focuses on developing military cooperation in various fields, including training, the exchange of combat and field expertise, intelligence information and military technology.

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