SYRIAN air defence systems have thwarted an Israeli aerial aggression in the Arab country’s south, state media say. ‘Our air defence systems thwarted … an Israeli air aggression … and prevented it from achieving any of its goals,’ Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted a leading military official as saying on Sunday, without giving further details.
The report added that the rare daylight missile attack had targeted localities in and around the Syrian capital, Damascus. Nearly all Israeli missile attacks occurred overnight or during the early hours of the day. The Israeli military has yet to comment on the strike. However, it said in a statement that the regime’s so-called Iron Dome interceptor system managed to shoot down a Syrian rocket over Mount Hermon at the northern part of Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
It was not immediately clear whether the incoming projectile was part of a retaliatory attack by the Syrian army or a Syrian air defence missile that was shot during the aerial confrontation but made its way toward a locality in the Golan Heights.
Syria has shot down most of missiles fired by Israeli warplanes toward capital Damascus.
Meanwhile, Russia’s National Defence Control Centre, cited by RIA news agency, said in a statement that the Israeli assault was conducted by four warplanes and targeted an airport in southeastern Damascus. RIA further cited the centre that the attack had not left any victims and that the airport was not damaged.
On January 11, the Syrian military said its defence units managed to shoot down ‘most’ of Israeli missiles fired toward Damascus late at night. ‘The results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the warehouses at Damascus airport,’ SANA quoted an unnamed military source as saying at the time.
The Israeli regime launches airstrikes on the Syrian territory from time to time. Such aggressive moves are usually viewed as attempts to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.
In October 2018, Moscow equipped Damascus with the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles, days after Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian targets using a Russian surveillance plane flying nearby as a shield, misleading the Syrian air defenses to shoot it down. Since then Israel has been very careful with its operation over Syria.
It is not yet clear whether the S-300 systems were among the air defence systems used in the Friday night counterattacks.
- The Hamas resistance movement has condemned the US decision to cut humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people as ‘political blackmail,’ urging international efforts to end Washington’s anti-Palestine pressure campaign and pro-Tel Aviv bias.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on Saturday that the decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to stop aid to the Palestinians ‘is in line with the ‘deal of the century’ that is aimed to liquidate the Palestinian issue.’
He was referring to Washington’s yet-to-be unveiled proposal aimed at resolving the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinians have already rejected Trump’s plan, which is said to be hugely biased towards the Israeli regime. The statement came days after the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said it would end all its projects in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip on January 31 following the US administration’s decision to cut funding to the Palestinians.
‘The Trump administration’s decision to cut humanitarian aid provided to the Palestinian people is political blackmail reflecting the US immoral demeanour towards the Palestinians and their just cause,’ Barhoum said.
He also urged international institutions to stand by the Palestinians and support them in the face of ‘the discriminatory behaviour of the US administration that is biased’ in favour of the Israeli occupation. ‘Hamas calls on all international, humanitarian, and legal organisations to condemn the US policies aimed at pressuring the Palestinian people to accept its schemes in the region.
‘Such organisations should shoulder the responsibility of mobilising support for and siding with the impoverished Palestinians,’ he added. Last year, the Trump administration ended all funding for UNRWA, the United Nations agency that provides humanitarian aid to over 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The controversial move came after President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority (PA) would no longer recognise Washington as a mediator of Israeli-Palestinian talks amid anger over Trump’s decision in late 2017 to recognise occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s ‘capital’ in defiance of international objections.
Analysts said the aid cut is meant to eliminate the Palestinians’ demand for the right to return, warning that it would cause more hardship for those living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
A senior Palestinian official has described a US decision to end funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency as inhumane and reckless. On Thursday, Dave Harden, former USAID mission director and managing director of the Georgetown Strategy Group, said the US administration’s decision to cut aid to Palestinians ‘demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.’ USAID has been operating in the Palestinian territories since 1994, investing in infrastructure, medical services, and education.
- Meanwhile in Bahrain an independent human rights group says it has documented the arrest of more than 5,000 prisoners of conscience in addition to 200 victims of excessive use of force, murder and torture in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom, as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists.
The head of the Bahrain Centre for Dialogue and Tolerance, Sheikh Maytham al-Salman, said in a statement during a conference held in Lebanese capital Beirut that ‘human rights as well as civil and political situation in Bahrain have deteriorated.
‘Continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain is taking place amid silence from the international community, including the United Kingdom and the United States of America,’ Salman added.
Salman then called on international diplomatic missions to investigate the trials of political and human rights activists in Bahrain, record the violence they face in prisons, and use diplomatic visits to examine the status of detainees. Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established. The UN human rights office condemns the latest verdict on Nabeel Rajab as ‘continued suppression of government critics.’
Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown. Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.
On March 5th, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide. Bahraini monarch King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah ratified the constitutional amendment on April 3, 2017.