Damascus, Sep 16 (AP/UNB) — Israel attacked Damascus International Airport with missiles Saturday night, Syrian state media said, adding that air defenses shot down some of them. A war monitoring group said the attack targeted an arms depot for Iranian forces or Lebanon's Hezbollah group.
Explosions during the attack were heard across Damascus. The state news agency SANA posted pictures showing what appeared to be air defenses firing into the air.
State media quoted an unidentified military official as reporting the attack but gave no further details.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the attack targeted an arms depot near the airport where new weapons recently arrived for the Iranians or Lebanon's Hezbollah group. The monitoring group had no immediate word on casualties, saying the strike did cause material damage.
Israel rarely acknowledges attacks inside Syria, but has said it would use military action to prevent weapons transfers to its enemies.
Earlier this month, an Israeli military official said the Jewish state has struck over 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months.
Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes mainly targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria that have joined the country's war fighting alongside the government. It rarely confirms the attacks.
An Israeli official said earlier this month that the targets were connected to Iran's elite Al-Quds force and included air force components, support infrastructure, and weapons storage and manufacturing facilities.
U.S. and Israeli officials have said that Iran and Hezbollah should end their armed presence in Syria. Israel says it is alarmed by the expansion of operations by Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.
Paris, Sep 16 (AP/UNB) — The Iranian Embassy was damaged by a crowd that a local police official said Saturday was made up of "individuals," while Iran's Foreign Ministry accused them of being extremists and charged that the response by authorities in Paris was slow and weak.
Iran's Foreign Ministry said protesters tried to attack embassy Friday, the country's official IRNA news agency reported. IRNA quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying officers did not arrive quickly after the disturbance was reported.
He said the troublemakers were members of an extremist organization that he did not identify, IRNA said.
"It is necessary for the French government to take serious measures to protect Iranian diplomatic missions in that country," Ghasemi said, according to the news agency.
A Paris police spokeswoman gave a somewhat different version of what transpired. She said "individuals" threw objects and smashed windows at the embassy. She said she did not have information about the motives or identities of the people outside the embassy.
The spokeswoman said the responding officers searched 12 people, but didn't take anyone into custody because embassy personnel didn't want to file a complaint. She declined to give her name, a common police practice in France.
Ghasemi said some suspects were arrested and Iran has asked the French government to prosecute and punish them, IRNA reported. Tehran is doing its own investigation of the commotion and the allegedly tardy arrival of Paris police, the news agency said.
Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard last week claimed responsibility for a missile attack targeting an Iraqi base of the Kurdish separatist group Party of Democratic Kurdistan of Iran. The Revolutionary Guard said the attack killed at least 11 people and wounded 50.
Baghdad, Sep 15 (AP/UNB) — Iraqi lawmakers have elected a Sunni Arab as speaker of parliament, the first step in forming a new government four months after national elections.
Lawmaker Ahmed al-Asadi says 169 lawmakers voted for Mohammed al-Halbousi during Saturday's session and 89 voted for former defense minister Khalid al-Obeidi.
Al-Halbousi is the former governor of Anbar province and was supported by the pro-Iran bloc inside parliament.
Early this month, parliament held its first session but failed to proceed with the process of forming a government with two Shiite-led blocs claiming to be the biggest bloc that will be tasked to form the government.
Under an unofficial agreement dating back to 2003, the prime minister position is reserved for Shiites, president a Kurd and parliament speaker a Sunni.
Beirut, Sep 15 (AP/UNB) — A Syrian war monitor and a Kurdish official say members of the Islamic State group have killed 20 U.S.-backed fighters in the country's east.
The attack occurred late Friday in Deir el-Zour province where the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces launched a wide offensive this week to capture the last pocket held by IS in Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the extremists took advantage of a sand storm to launch a counterattack, which killed 20 fighters and wounded others.
Kurdish official Ebrahim Ebrahim said the 20 were killed in an ambush by IS fighters.
The Observatory said Saturday that since the SDF launched its offensive on the IS-held pocket including the town of Hajin, 53 extremists have been killed as well as 37 U.S.-backed fighters.
Washington, Sep 13 (AP/UNB)— The Pentagon says Russia will bear responsibility for the resulting humanitarian crisis in Syria if the Moscow-backed Syrian military attacks the northern city of Idlib.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, says the U.S. and its allies are concerned about the deadly consequences if Syrian President Bashar Assad, with support from Russia and Iran, launches an offensive against Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria. Government forces have been massing troops near the city, and Russia and Syria have launched airstrikes on Idlib for weeks.
Pahon says the U.S. questions the continued presence of more than a dozen Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea near Syria. He says the ships must operate safely and abide by international law.
Turkey has called for a cease-fire, but Russia and Iran rejected the plan.