Following reports that Israel is plotting a full-scale offensive in Syria (after years of carrying out airstrikes on allegedly Iranian or Iranian-affiliated targets south of Damascus), Russia on Wednesday accused the Jewish state of endangering the lives of civilians during a Christmas Day bombing raid carried out by Israeli F-16s flying out of Lebanon.
According to Al Jazeera, Russia accused the Israelis of violating Syrian sovereignty and threatening two civilian flights landing at a nearby airport in Damascus during attacks on targets allegedly affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Damascus countryside.
“We are very concerned by the attacks and how they were made. This is a gross violation of the sovereignty of Syria,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The provocative actions of the Israeli air force…directly threatened two airliners,” Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
Syrian state media claimed it intercepted most of the Israeli missiles. Israeli, for what it’s worth, has denied that it planned an attack, saying that its fighter jets were merely protecting themselves from anti-aircraft gun fire.
“An [Israeli military] aerial defence system activated in response to an anti-aircraft missile launched from Syria,” the Israeli army said in a statement via Twitter.
A spokesman for the Russian military said the attack was launched from Lebanese territory as “two airliners, not from Russia, were preparing to land at the airports of Beirut and Damascus.” And “to prevent a tragedy” one of the commercial planes was redirected to a Russian airbase.
Meanwhile, three Syrian soldiers were injured in the attack. As the US begins to withdraw its troops, expect Israeli attacks to intensify as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned as Israel tries to stop Iran from expanding its influence from within Syria.