First Published: 2017-03-20

Russia summoned Israeli ambassador over Syria air strikes
Israeli ambassador to Russia Gary Koren summoned on Friday, 'asked about' strikes close to Moscow's forces near historic Syrian city of Palmyra.
Middle East Online

Russian President Vladimir Putin receives Israeli ambassador to Russia Gary Koren

MOSCOW - A senior army officer said Monday that Israel had fired its Arrow missile at a Syrian rocket which posed a "ballistic threat" during clashes over the weekend.

Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria on Friday, drawing retaliatory missile fire, in the most serious incident between the two countries since the start of the Syrian war six years ago.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the air strikes targeted weapons bound for Lebanon's Shiite militant group Hezbollah, and that Israel would do the same again if necessary.

Syria's military launched anti-aircraft missiles at the attackers and said it had downed an Israeli plane and hit another as they carried out pre-dawn strikes near the desert city of Palmyra.

Israel denied any of its aircraft was hit.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defence systems "without the slightest hesitation" if they fired on Israeli planes in future.

During the sortie, Israel threw its Arrow interceptor into the fray to take out what the officer said Monday was believed to have been a Russian-made SA 5 missile.

"It was a ballistic threat focused on the state of Israel," he said, speaking in English to foreign media on condition of anonymity.

"Our mission is to defend the state and the people of Israel," he added. "That was exactly the case last week."

Former prime minister and defence minister Ehud Barak has questioned the wisdom of the Arrow launch, saying it may have escalated tensions with Syria in too public a manner.

Missile fragments fell in Jordan, which borders both Israel and Syria, without causing casualties.

But the Israeli officer said Monday that the Syrian missile, weighing "tonnes and carrying hundreds of kilos of explosives" had posed a threat that could not have been ignored.

"Try to imagine the meaning if this kind of threat would hit the cities and towns of Israel," he said.

Launching the Arrow, jointly developed by the United States and Israel, was "a correct and effective solution", he added.

-Russia summons ambassador-

Russia's foreign ministry on Monday said it had summoned Israel's ambassador over the strikes close to Moscow's forces near the historic Syrian city of Palmyra.

Deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Interfax news agency that Ambassador Gary Koren was summoned on Friday and "asked about" the strikes.

The ministry "expressed concern" about the action taking place near Russian military locations, Bogdanov said.

Russia -- which is conducting its own bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad -- said earlier this month that more than 180 of its troops have started demining around Palmyra's ancient monuments.

Russia and Israel have set up a "hotline" aimed at avoiding air clashes over Syria and Bogdanov said Moscow "would like this channel to work more effectively" to ensure no "misunderstanding on who is doing what."

Russia has deployed its own high-tech missile defence systems to Syria to protect its forces there.

 

Qatar again refuses to bow to Saudi-led demands

Newspaper staff walk free after over 8 months jail in Turkey

Iran condemns new US sanctions

HRW hails new Tunisia law on violence against women

Schoolgirls in Iraq's Mosul aim to catch up on lost years

Iran reports new incident with US ships in Gulf

West hardens tone on Iran

Britain lifts laptop ban on some Turkey flights

Palestinians pray outside holy site after Israeli restrictions

Syria army reaches last IS-held town on road to Deir Ezzor

Jordan to bar Israeli ambassador until shooting probed

Libya PM denies accord for Italy ships to deploy

Turkey court considers freeing Cumhuriyet journalists

Saudi-led coalition says Yemeni rebel missile shot down near Mecca

10 injured in violent Istanbul storm

Iran 'successfully' tests satellite launch rocket

Israeli forces attack Palestinians returning to sensitive holy site

Turkish PM tells German execs they are not part of ‘tension’

UAE agent Dahlan attends Hamas-led parliament

Ceasefire deal reached on Syria-Lebanon border

Climate change will make wildfires more common

Al-Jazeera rejects Netanyahu's accusations of 'incitement'

A hunt for the missing in the ruins of Mosul

Rights group says Iraqi unit executed Mosul prisoners

Etihad posts $1.87 bn loss in 2016

France to conduct asylum seeker checks in Libya

Palestinians to return to Jerusalem holy site

Tunisia parliament passes bill to 'end all violence' against women

Egypt creates 'national council' to fight 'terror'

Battle on Lebanon-Syria border proves difficult for Hezbollah fighters

Subdued atmosphere in Jerusalem's Old City

Britain lifts Tunisia travel warning

Police in Cairo kill 4 suspected in mid-July attack

Bahrain charges 60 in mass trial

Erdogan says Israeli removal of holy site metal detectors not enough

Tripoli asks Italy to send ships in fight against traffickers

Egyptian state seizes land from ‘squatters’

Jerusalem standoff continues over 'advanced' cameras

UN says majority of Yemen children in need of immediate aid

Syrian civilians turn to smugglers to flee Raqa fighting

Clashes erupt in Eastern Ghouta despite Syria truce deal

Isolated Qatar criticises new Saudi bloc blacklist

Top EU court keeps Hamas on terror list

Iran’s deputy FM: US sanctions vote 'hostile'

Two Moroccan UN peacekeepers killed in C. Africa attack