Moscow thanks IDF for destroying Islamic State rocket launcher in Syria

Source: Moscow thanks IDF for destroying Islamic State rocket launcher in Syria | The Times of Israel

Israeli divers searching Sea of Galilee for two of the rockets that were fired into Israel, apparently by stray fire from IS fighters battling Assad’s forces

A picture taken on July 25, 2018, from the Tal Saki hill in the Golan Heights shows smoke rising above buildings across the border in Syria during airstrikes backing a Syrian-government-led offensive in the southern province of Quneitra. (AFP / JALAA MAREY)

A picture taken on July 25, 2018, from the Tal Saki hill in the Golan Heights shows smoke rising above buildings across the border in Syria during airstrikes backing a Syrian-government-led offensive in the southern province of Quneitra. (AFP / JALAA MAREY)

The Russian Defense Ministry said it had thanked the Israeli army for destroying an Islamic State missile launcher which fired two rockets at Israel that landed in the Sea of Galilee.

According to the Russian ministry, the IDF strike Wednesday apparently also killed a number of IS fighters.

On Thursday, Israeli police sappers and naval divers were carrying out searches in the sea to try and find and identify the two projectiles. Beaches on the eastern shore of the lake were closed to bathers.

“Russian armed forces’ command in Syria used the existing communication channels to thank the IDF leadership for killing terrorists and stopping a massive provocation,” the ministry said in a statement later Wednesday reported by Sputnik news which provided an English translation.

“A precision strike by jets and IDF artillery operatively destroyed Daesh terrorists and their rocket launchers,” the ministry said, referring to the terror group by its Arabic acronym.

The ministry said that by firing the missiles IS was “seeking to provoke Israel’s strike on positions of the Syrian government army,” the Tass news agency reported.

Israel has in the past hit Syrian military positions after their stray fire landed in Israeli territory.

Russia, along with Iran, is providing military assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad is his bid to quash a civil war which has raged for over seven years.

Israeli aircraft targeted a position in southern Syria on Wednesday evening in response to apparently errant fire from the fighting that triggered sirens throughout the Golan Heights hours prior.

The Israeli Defense Force said it targeted the rocket launcher that fired the two projectiles toward Israel, though it did not identify the party responsible.

Hours earlier the Emek Hayarden Regional Council said two projectiles landed in the Sea of Galilee in the north of the country, without causing any injuries or damage.

Israelis enjoy the beaches of the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel, on April 1, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The projectiles were believed to have been fired from the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights, where the Syrian regime has been completing its campaign against the last rebel villages remaining in the area.

Incoming rocket sirens blared across the Israeli Golan Heights, sending residents of the area scrambling to bomb shelters.

The military said the system was triggered after it identified projectiles launched in the direction of Israel. No missile defense systems were fired, however. The IDF was investigating why the defense systems were not activated.

The projectile fire came a day after the Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace.

In light of the heavy Russian presence in Syria, Israel in September 2015 set up a mechanism with Moscow — involving work groups led by the deputy chiefs of both militaries — to avoid conflicts and potentially fatal misunderstandings.

However, senior air force official have stressed that this system is limited: Israel does not inform the Russians before conducting airstrikes in Syria, nor does Russia let the Israelis in on its plans.

Israel has acknowledged carrying out several aerial raids on Iranian targets in Syria, and is suspected of carrying out several more aimed at preventing Iranian military entrenchment in the country or the supply of advanced weapons to Iran’s proxy, the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon.

Jerusalem and Moscow are reportedly working on arrangements for southern Syria and the border area after the regime regains control of the region.

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