Israel calls on Syria's Assad to 'get rid' of Iranian forces

Israel calls on Syria's Assad to 'get rid' of Iranian forces

A wave of Israeli strikes on suspected military positions in Syria this week killed 42 people, including at least 19 Iranians, a Syria war monitor reported Saturday.

The death toll from the strikes has risen to 27, including at least 11 Iranians and six Syrian soldiers, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Ryabkov gave his Iranian counterpart, Abbas Araghchi, information that reached Syria during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow on Wednesday. With the war winding down in favor of Assad, Israel - which saw him as the lesser of two evils compared to Islamic hard-liners among rebels - is now finding that his victory has brought Iran closer to its borders.

In separate strike late Tuesday, a military outpost near the capital Damascus was hit with missiles fired from Israel, the Syrian government said.

Israel launched airstrikes against dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday after Iranian forces fired around 20 rockets into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

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Israeli forces have been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids.

In the escalating confrontation between Israel and Iran, Israel's defense minister called on Syria's President Bashar Assad on Friday to rid his country of Iranian forces based there - warning their presence will only cause more trouble to the already war-ravaged country. Israel told Russian Federation about the imminent attack as part of the two countries' ongoing security coordination in Syria.

The Golan Heights are Syrian territory occupied by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

The escalation between Israel and Iran has raised fears the region may be sliding into an unprecedented direct confrontation between the two archenemies.

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Israeli officials said this weekend that Israel's response to the Iranian attack has made it clear to Tehran that it does not possess the operational infrastructure it needs in Syria to successfully contend with IDF capabilities, according to a Friday report by Hadashot TV news. Some protesters set a U.S. flag on fire in Tehran with the nuclear deal scribbled on it. Others stomped on a picture of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The 2015 nuclear deal imposed restrictions on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in return for the lifting of most of the USA and worldwide sanctions against Tehran.

Avigdor Lieberman's comments were followed by threats from an Iranian cleric that Tel Aviv or Haifa would be in danger if Israel did "anything foolish".

With the capture of the three suburbs, the only area outside government control in Damascus is that of the neighborhood of Hajar al-Aswad and the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk that are partially controlled by the Islamic State group.

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