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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives at a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on June 2, 2019. (By AFP)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives at a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on June 2, 2019. (By AFP)

In a rare public acknowledgement of Israeli operations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he personally ordered the recent airstrikes against Syrian military positions.

The Israeli premier made the provocative remarks on Sunday shortly after new air raids struck Syrian military positions in the southern region of Quneitra near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing three soldiers and wounding seven others.

Israel claims it was responding to two rockets allegedly launched from Syria late Saturday, which caused no casualties.

“We will not tolerate firing into our territory and will respond fiercely against any aggression against us,” Netanyahu said.

Hours after the Quneitra airstrikes, Israel launched missile attacks against the T-4 airbase near the western Syrian city of Homs, killing an army soldier and wounding two others.

The Syrian air defence reportedly managed to successfully intercept a number of the missiles.

The Israeli prime minister further threatened strikes against positions of Iranian military advisers in Syria, claiming that “anyone who tries to hurt us will be hurt far worse.”

The Israeli air force has staged repeated air raids against Syrian military bases that it claims are used by Iranian military advisers.

Iranian advisers are in Syria on the request of the country’s legitimate government to help the Syrian army in its fight against foreign-backed militants.

Syria’s official SANA news agency said the recent Israeli airstrikes are an attempt to prop up terrorist groups based in western provinces of Hama and Idlib that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

“The aggression comes in conjunction with the terrorists in Hama and Idlib,” SANA wrote on Sunday night.

“The Israeli enemy has intervened over the past several years to support its collapsing terrorist tools,” the report said.

SANA said the attacks came after Syrian forces liberated several villages in Idlib from “terrorist groups.”

Israel has been providing medical treatment to extremist elements wounded in Syria. Numerous reports have also emerged of the discovery of Israeli-made weapons and military equipment during clean-up operations by the Syrian army.

The Tel Aviv regime reportedly used to arm at least seven different terror groups in the occupied Golan Heights.

In recent weeks, Syrian armed forces, under Russia’s air cover, have been conducting counter-terrorism operations in areas surrounding Idlib, the last significant militant stronghold in Syria.

Recently, the Syrian army has warned civilians to leave Idlib amid preparations for a final military campaign to flush terrorists out of the region.

Trump urges Russia, Syria to stop bombing Idlib

US President Donald Trump on Sunday urged Russia and Syrian government forces to stop bombing Idlib after Moscow said it would continue to back a month-long Syrian offensive there.

On Friday, the Kremlin said it was Turkey’s responsibility to stop terrorists in Idlib from firing at civilian and Russian targets.

Turkey and Russia brokered a deal in September 2018 to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib that would be evacuated of all heavy weapons and militants.

The Kremlin on Monday rebuffed Trump’s criticism, saying the offensive was justified because it was targeting “terrorists.”

When asked about Trump’s criticism on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that terrorists were using Idlib as a base to launch attacks against civilian and military targets, something he called unacceptable.

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