Israel ends military operation at Lebanese border

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

It comes as Benjamin Netanyahu made a rare public acknowledgement at his cabinet meeting that Israel was behind a strike on an Iranian weapons storage facility at the Damascus International Airport.

Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel has been behind hundreds of strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria in remarks confirmed by Israeli Defense Forces outgoing Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot who emphasized the IDF's victories against Iran and Hezbollah under his leadership over the course of four years.

Israel in recent years has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria against targets linked to Iran, which alongside its proxies and Russian Federation is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

At a weekly cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Netanyahu admitted that Israel had delivered airstrikes against Iranian targets at Damascus' global airport over the past 36 hours.

However, Israel has until now generally refrained from commenting about the strikes for fear of triggering a reaction and being drawn into the deadly fighting in neighboring Syria's civil war.

On Tuesday, Eisenkot will be replace by Maj.

"All of the tunnels have been exposed and have either already been destroyed or are going to be destroyed", military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

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The Israeli military said a sixth tunnel was found on Saturday, 55 meters (yards) deep and reaching "a few tens of meters" into Israeli territory from 800 meters within Lebanon. Israel reported the tunnel's discovery to UNIFIL, the United Nations observer force responsible for ensuring that southern Lebanon remains free of hostile forces.

"Overnight, the air force also attacked on the southern front against Hamas targets in Gaza and this morning we announced the exposure of an additional tunnel, a main tunnel, perhaps the most important, that crossed the border into our territory".

The tunnel would be destroyed in the coming days, Conricus said, adding that while more tunnels still existed on the Lebanese side of the border, this effectively marked the end of the ambitious military operation. In a New York Times interview published Friday, Eisenkot said that Israel "has struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit" as part of his showdown with Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran's elite Quds Force.

The operation had raised concerns that Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia group and avowed enemy of Israel, would respond and spark a new conflict between them, but the border has remained calm throughout, AFP said. It said the Iranian-backed organization Hezbollah dug.

Eisenkot also revealed the government approved his shift in strategy in January 2017, stepping up airstrikes in Syria.

A month-long war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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