Syria, Russia Start Joint Air Force Patrols Near Golan Heights

Russian and Syrian warplanes during a joint patrol in Syrian airspace (Russia Today)
Russian and Syrian warplanes during a joint patrol in Syrian airspace (Russia Today)
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Syria, Russia Start Joint Air Force Patrols Near Golan Heights

Russian and Syrian warplanes during a joint patrol in Syrian airspace (Russia Today)
Russian and Syrian warplanes during a joint patrol in Syrian airspace (Russia Today)

Syrian and Russian military jets jointly patrolled the airspace along Syria’s borders on Monday and plan to make such flights regular, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying.

According to RIA Novosti, the Russian pilots took off from the Hmeimim Air Base, while the Syrian pilots departed from military airports in the vicinity of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

During the exercises, the Russian pilots carried out mock strikes against ground targets, while their Syrian counterparts worked to monitor the airspace and provide the necessary air cover.

Russian pilots used Su-34 and Su-35 fighters and the A50 early warning aircraft, while the Syrian pilots used the MiG-23 and MiG-29 aircrafts.

The path of the group included the Golan Heights, the armistice line with Israel that has seen regular Israeli air strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah positions.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said such joint patrols are expected to be a regular occurrence moving forward.

In Tel Aviv, they considered these patrols “a message to Israel that Moscow is determined to strengthen the Assad regime’s position and reduce Israeli attacks in Syria.”

Syria on June 25, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Syria and Russia held joint military jet patrols of the airspace along Syria’s borders on Monday, including in the Golan Heights area, according to a Russian Defense Ministry statement reported by Interfax.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is considered one of few allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In other news, Russian and Syrian warplanes, for the first time in a year, flew over the airspace of northwestern Syria.

This coincided with ground bombardment by Syrian regime forces on de-escalation areas in the countryside of Idlib and Hama in northwest Syria.

Opposition sources reported no human or material losses.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.