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Syria strikes an ‘important signal’ to Iran and Hezbollah -Israeli minister

F/A-18 Super Hornet and F/A-18 Hornet warplanes are seen on the flight deck of US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on February 21, 2017 [Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency]
F/A-18 Super Hornet and F/A-18 Hornet warplanes are seen on the flight deck of US aircraft carrier USS George Washington during its mission in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on February 21, 2017 [Murat Kaynak / Anadolu Agency]

US-led strikes in Syria are an “important signal” to Iran, Syria and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a senior Israeli cabinet minister said on Saturday.

“The use of chemical weapons crosses a red line that humanity can no longer tolerate,” Yoav Gallant, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Twitter.

US, British and French forces hit Syria with air strikes overnight in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week. US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad’s government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

“The American attack is an important signal to the axis of evil – Iran, Syria and Hezbollah,” Gallant said.

An Israeli official said Israel was notified of the strikes ahead of time. Asked how much advanced warning Israel had received, the official told Reuters: “Between 12 and 24 hours, I believe.” Asked whether Israel helped choose targets, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Not to my knowledge.”

Iran’s involvement in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad has alarmed Israel, which has said it would counter any threat. Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has an extensive missile arsenal, last fought a war with Israel in 2006.

Syria, Iran and Russia say Israel was behind an air strike on a Syrian air base on Monday that killed seven Iranian military personnel, something Israel has neither confirmed nor denied.

US-led strikes in Syria have enforced a red line set for President Bashar al-Assad on the use of chemical weapons, another Israeli official said on Saturday. “Last year, President Trump made clear that the use of chemical weapons crosses a red line. Tonight, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom enforced that line,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding:

Syria continues to engage in and provide a base for murderous actions, including those of Iran, that put its territory, its forces and its leadership at risk,

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the US-led attacks on Syria and said Washington and its allies would bear the responsibility of the raids’ consequences in the region and beyond, Iranian state media reported.

“Undoubtedly, the United States and its allies, which took military action against Syria despite the absence of any proven evidence … will assume the responsibility for the regional and trans-regional consequences of this adventurism,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

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