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IDF chief appears to confirm two Israeli strikes in Syria last month

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi appears to indicate that Israel was responsible for two airstrikes in Syria last month, saying the first targeted a weapons manufacturing facility and the second a shipment of munitions.

In a speech to the Institute for National Security Studies, Kohavi notes the wide range of fronts and types of threats the military is facing. To demonstrate this complexity, he notes a week in which the IDF conducted operations in two foreign countries, as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Though he refrains from naming Syria — instead referring to it as “Country A” — the timeline described by the chief of staff clearly indicates that one of the countries in question is Syria.

“On the first day, we struck widely in… let’s call it Country A. There we struck both a production facility and weapons themselves. The next day, the Iron Dome intercepted two rockets that were en route to Ashkelon,” Kohavi said, apparently referring to an airstrike in Syria on the night between December 24 and 25 and a rocket attack from Gaza the following evening.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks during an Israeli Navy ceremony in Haifa, on March 4, 2020. (Flash90)

“We then conducted a commando raid on front ‘B,’ which is not necessarily in the first ring,” Kohavi said, using the military’s term for the countries and areas immediately adjacent to Israel. It is not definitively clear which country this refers to, though Iraq, which borders Syria and is not considered in the IDF’s “first ring,” is a likely candidate.

“Two days later, we again struck Country A, blocking the transfer of weaponry from A to B. This was weaponry that was supposed to be directed and used against the State of Israel,” he said. This appears to be a reference to an airstrike against Iran-linked sites in Syria on December 31.

“And in the meantime, in the Central Command, night after night, seven to ten arrests were made. Some of those [arrested] could have carried out a terror attack on the Route 443 highway or in the Halamish settlement,” he said.

The IDF chief noted that in addition, the military attempted to prevent the constant cyber attacks directed against Israel.

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