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Issue #1784      July 5, 2017

Israel targets Assad forces

Israel attacked Syrian troops advancing against Al-Qaida terrorists last week, aping the US bid to construct a pretext for war. A Syrian army post in south-eastern Quneitra province came under fire from Israeli forces as government troops regained positions lost to the Al-Qaida-affiliated Hetesh group.

Tel Aviv claimed a mortar shell had landed in the occupied west of the Golan Heights as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the area, which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and later effectively annexed.

“The Golan is ours and the Golan will always be ours,” Mr Netanyahu claimed. “The Golan is ours because it belonged to our forefathers, and because it was taken back by us due to Syrian aggression.”

The Golan Heights are recognised internationally, including by the US, as Syrian territory occupied by Israel. Israel has used the same excuse to attack Syria many times in recent years, prompting allegations that jihadists request Israeli air support by launching a shell across the armistice line.

The previous weekend, Israel bombed President Bashar al Assad’s troops three times as Hetesh tried to seize the provincial capital Ba’ath City. Later, the army displayed Israeli-made arms – including ammunition and rockets – discovered among rebel stockpiles in the central city of Homs.

The weapons were found after the authorities re-entered the city’s al-Waer district last month for the first time since 2011, following an amnesty deal with insurgents.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry accused Washington of making “misleading, false and baseless” allegations that it was preparing a chemical weapons attack on rebels as a “pretext” for aggression.

“Any US aggression against [Syria’s] army and people is in the service of terrorist organisations,” it said. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said intelligence indicated that extremists had already fabricated video footage similar to April’s alleged attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

“Washington has voiced new baseless accusations against the Syrian leadership,” she said. “The situation resembles a large-scale provocation, both in the military and information terms, which is directed not only against the Syrian authorities but also against Russia.”

Meanwhile, US surveillance planes were reportedly cruising over the eastern Mediterranean off the Syrian coast.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov advised the US to “refrain from speculating on intelligence data which is so secret no-one may see it in order to provoke others and create pretexts for new attacks.”

Morning Star

Next article – Baghdad’s Army captures Grand Mosque

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