Syria says Israeli helicopters strike targets in southern Syria

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian state media reported on Friday that Israeli helicopters fired several rockets from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on targets inside southern Syria in what Western intelligence sources have described as an increase in strikes against Iranian-backed militias this year.

The attacks caused only material damage, according to state media.

Bases and convoys run by Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia which has a strong presence in the Syrian Golan Heights have been hit by Israel in recent years.

After Syria announced last Monday that it had intercepted airstrikes by Israel near the capital Damascus, Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett told Israeli media that Israel would step up its campaign against Iran in Syria. [L5N2CF05P]

Bennett appeared to confirm that Israel was behind the airstrike on what Western intelligence sources said were Iranian bases in a marked increase in the number of Israeli strikes since the start of this year.

“We have moved from blocking Iran’s entrenchment in Syria to forcing it out of there, and we will not stop,” Bennett said in a statement.

“We will not allow more strategic threats to grow just across our borders without taking action, We will continue to take the fight to the enemy’s territory,” Bennett said.

The Syrian army later said Monday’s strike killed three Syrian civilians and injured several others from shrapnel that hit their homes.

Israel says Iran’s military presence in Syria, where its militias are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s forces, is a strategic threat and claims that Tehran seeks a permanent presence along its northern borders.

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