1st LD Writethru: Israel launches airstrikes on targets in Syria

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JERUSALEM, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military said Wednesday that it had carried out several airstrikes against the Syrian armed forces and Iranian forces in Syria.

The airstrikes were conducted hours after explosive devices were found along its border with Syria, said the Israeli military, adding that the devices were believed to have been placed by a "Syrian squad led by Iranian forces."

The overnight airstrikes were carried out against eight targets, it said. The Syrian state news agency reported that three soldiers were killed and another wounded in the "Israeli aggression."

The targets were both close to Israel's border with Syria but also in "the periphery of Damascus," the Syrian capital. One of the strikes targeted Damascus' international airport, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, spokesperson for Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The IDF accused part of the airport of serving as headquarters for Iranian forces stationed in Syria.

Other targets in the overnight strike included surface-to-air missile batteries and Syrian military sites which, according to Conricus, served as "hosting facilities for senior Iranian delegations."

In recent years, Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

Israel sees Iran as its arch-enemy and will not allow Iran to establish a permanent base in Syria.

"We hope that the message is clear," Conricus said at a phone briefing to foreign journalists held early in the morning. "We will not tolerate the fact that Syria allows Iranian forces to operate on it's soil and to use Syrians as pawns to attack Israel."

He added that the Israeli military is in 'elevated readiness' in case of a retaliation from either Syria or Iran.

Israel and Syria have a border along the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state seized from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981. Enditem

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