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Israeli airstrikes hit Syrian port city hours prior to diplomatic visit

ISRAELI airstrikes on the western Syrian port city of Tartus injured two civilians and damaged infrastructure hours before the arrival of a senior Iranian diplomat into the country.

Syria’s Defence Ministry accused Tel Aviv of launching an “air aggression” from across the Mediterranean, west of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli.

“The Israeli enemy carried out an airstrike” at about 6.30am near the town of al-Hamidiyah, the ministry said.

It “led to the injury of two civilians, including a woman,” a statement added, saying the missiles targeted two poultry farms.

The shelling took place hours before Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian arrived in Damascus for talks with President Bashar al-Assad and key Syrian government officials.

He condemned the attack which analysts suggest was deliberately timed to coincide with the visit.

Israel views Iranian forces inside Syria as a threat and has launched hundreds of missile attacks which it claims are aimed at reducing Tehran’s influence.

Mr Amirabdollahian will hold discussions days after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who has threatened a military invasion of northern Syria.

He wants to secure a 30km buffer zone he insists is necessary to protect Turkey from terror attacks by Kurdish forces.

But Mr Amirabdollahian warned Mr Erdogan against such a move saying that any misunderstandings must be resolved through dialogue.

Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journal claimed that the Israeli Defence Force had been co-ordinating its airstrikes with the Pentagon and US Central Command.

The newspaper cited current and former US officials who said that the US has given secret approval for the attacks on Iranian-linked targets inside Syria.

They said that the missile strikes had been reviewed by Washington, although it didn’t help the Israelis choose their targets.

One former US official told the WSJ that it’s a “well-developed and deliberate process” and with discussions necessary to ensure that Israeli jets did not disrupt US operations at its al-Tanf base near the border with Jordan.

Former Middle East peace envoy Daniel Ross said that there was “tacit American support” for the attacks although the US is hesitant “about wanting any fingerprints on this.”

Mr Assad has consistently called on the international community to condemn the Israel missile strikes, which critics say could amount to war crimes.

But despite numerous appeals and letters, the United Nations has failed to respond.

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