The Latest: Syria war monitor says Israeli strikes killed 23

The Latest: Syria war monitor says Israeli strikes killed 23
The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Latest on the war in Syria, where Israel responded to a rocket attack by launching a wave of missile strikes on Iranian positions (all times local):

12:45 p.m.

A Syrian war monitoring group says Israeli attacks on several sites in Syria have killed 23 fighters, including five Syrian soldiers.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Thursday the overnight attacks struck several military posts for Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias near the capital, Damascus, in central Syria and in southern Syria.

The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdurrahman, said five Syrian soldiers, including two officers, and 18 militia fighters were killed. Abdurrahman says it is not immediately clear if Iranians were among those killed.

He says the toll is likely to rise because some of the wounded are in critical condition.

The Observatory says the strikes targeted suspected locations of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, as well as areas where Iranian advisers are believed to be based.

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Noon

Syrian President Bashar Assad has accused U.S. President Donald Trump of saying one thing one day and the opposite the next, saying “I don’t think in the meantime we can achieve anything with such an administration.”

Assad spoke in an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper published Thursday, before Israel carried out airstrikes in Syria in response to what it said was a cross-border rocket attack by Iranian forces.

He appeared to be referring to conflicting messages from the White House on how long it plans to keep American troops in Syria and its plans going forward.

Assad says wise Russian leadership has managed to avoid a full-blown conflict with Washington. He says: “I hope we don’t see any direct conflict between these superpowers, because this is where things are going to be out of control for the rest of the world.”

Both Russia and Iran have provided crucial military support to Assad’s forces.

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9:30 a.m.

Israel’s defense minister says the military has struck “nearly all” of the Iranian infrastructure sites in Syria.

Avigdor Lieberman says Thursday Israel responded fiercely to an unprecedented rocket attack by Iranian forces in Syria against Israel. He says no one was harmed in Israel and all the rockets were either intercepted or fell short.

Lieberman told the Herzliya Conference, an annual security gathering north of Tel Aviv, that “if it rains on us it will be a flood on them.”

Israel attacked dozens of Iranian targets overnight in response to the rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. It was the most serious military confrontation between Israel and Iran to date and Israel’s biggest strike in Syria since the 1973 war.

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7:50 a.m.

The Israeli military says it attacked dozens of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in response to an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, in the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date.

Israel says the targets included weapons storage facilities, logistics centers, intelligence sites and logistic sites used by elite Iranian forces in Syria. It also says it destroyed several Syrian air-defense systems after coming under heavy fire. It says none of its warplanes was hit.

The blistering Israeli assault was by far the most intensive Israeli action in neighboring Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011. Israel has tried to stay on the sidelines but has acknowledged over 100 airstrikes over the past seven years.

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