Russia denounces Israeli air strikes in Syria

Moscow calls on Israel to halt its attacks.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Russia’s Foreign Ministry called on Israel to stop its air strikes on targets in Syria on Thursday.

“Israel’s continuing strikes against targets inside Syria cause deep concern. They are a crude violation of Syria’s sovereignty and may trigger a sharp escalation of tensions,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Her comments were first reported by Russia’s state-owned TASS News Agency.

Russia “systematically and resolutely opposes attempts to turn Syria into a scene of armed confrontation between third countries,” said Zakharova, adding, “Once again we are insistently calling upon the Israeli side to refrain from such use of force.”

She also said the air strikes endanger civilian aircraft.

To avoid inadvertent conflict between the Israeli and Russian Air Forces, the two countries have a hotline and Jerusalem gives Moscow advance warning. However, Zakharova said these measures should not be regarded as Russian approval.

The Russian comments after an errant Syrian anti-aircraft missile exploded in Israeli skies over Samaria in the predawn hours of Wednesday morning. The missile was fired during air strikes near Damascus attributed to Israel. The IDF doesn’t comment on its strikes in Syria, though Israeli officials confirm the strikes in general.

Israel has launched numerous air strikes on Iran and its proxies operating in Syria, targeting weapons and communications facilities.

Israel’s Kan News reported in January that Russian military activity in Syria has interfered with Israeli GPS systems, posing a potential risk to flights landing at Ben Gurion International Airport. IDF officials said the signals are coming from the Khmeimim Air Base, Russia’s primary air base in Syria and do not appear to be intentional.

A December air strike on the port of Latakia also raised Moscow’s ire. Israel has refrained from striking the port due to the presence of Russian personnel. It was widely speculated that the target of the pinpoint strike were munitions or dangerous material based on the unusually heavy fires that were sparked.

Analysts speculated that Iran is deliberately endangering Russian lives by transferring and storing weapons in the port.