Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly acknowledged that his country’s forces are involved in war-hit Syria, mainly to ward off the Hezbollah.
Israel has been blamed for recent strikes on alleged Iranian arms transfers from Syria intended for the Lebanese Shia movement.
“We occasionally carry out operations in Syria to prevent that country from becoming a front against us. We also do everything to prevent weapons, particularly lethal ones, being moved from Syria to Lebanon,” said Netanyahu, but did not provide any details of the operations.
Israel last engaged Hezbollah in an intense month-long battle in 2006. The country’s leaders have repeatedly said they would not let the group obtain weapons. However, they have largely remained silent on specific strikes.
Netanyahu’s comments came in the wake of Israel and Russia sealing a deal to coordinate operations of the two air forces in order to avoid incidents such as the recent downing of a Russian jet over the Turkey-Syria border.
On Sunday (29 November), Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said a Russian war plane had recently entered Israeli-controlled airspace from Syria, but the intrusion was resolved without incident.
Commenting on Ankara’s downing of the Russian fighter, Netanyahu said, “[For Russia] the events of recent days prove the importance of our coordination, our de-confliction mechanisms, our attempts to cooperate with each other to prevent unnecessary accidents and tragedies, and I believe that we’ve been successful. It’s important.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to intensify air strikes in Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad in his battle against the Islamic State (Isis) and other rebels.
Israel, which otherwise is opposed to the Assad regime, has largely remained on the sidelines of the war except for returning fire when rockets or mortar shells strayed into Israeli-controlled territory.