News Briefs – September 14, 2016


Israel denies its aircraft harmed after raid in Syria

The Israeli military struck artillery positions in Syria Sept. 13 after a projectile from that country’s civil war hit the Israeli-controlled part of the Golan Heights, but denied a Syrian claim that Syrian forces shot down two Israeli aircraft.
The incident was the fifth case since last week in which fighting in Syria has spilled over into Israel, and the first since a U.S.-Russia brokered truce went into effect at sunset Sept. 12 to try and end the civil war, now in its sixth year.
Israel has largely remained on the sidelines of the fighting, but has carried out reprisals on Syrian positions when errant fire previously landed in Israel.
Shortly after the air raid, Syria’s armed forces claimed to have shot down an Israeli warplane and an unmanned drone along the frontier.
The Israeli military quickly denied the report, saying that a pair of surface-to-air missiles were fired at its aircraft but missed. “At no point was the safety of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) aircraft compromised,” it said.
Israeli warplanes have conducted several raids on Syrian army positions over the past weeks after stray shells hit the Israeli-controlled Golan. Israel is also widely believed to have carried out airstrikes on arms shipments said to be destined for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a close ally of the Syrian government.
Later Sept. 13, the Israeli military said three other “projectiles” fired from Syria hit the Golan Heights in two separate strikes, causing no injuries. It would not elaborate further.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and the two countries have technically been in a state of war for decades. AP

Iran unveils new helicopter-carrying catamaran ship

Iran’s state TV says the country’s Revolutionary Guard has unveiled a new high-speed vessel capable of carrying a helicopter and up to 100 people.
The report Sept. 13 follows a series of close encounters between American warships and Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf.
It showed a catamaran-type ship described as 55 meters (yards) long and 14 meters (yards) wide, carrying a light civilian helicopter. It did not elaborate on the speed of the boat.
It was painted with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s call for U.S. forces to “Go back to the Bay of Pigs.”
In May, Khamenei criticized the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf region in an apparent reference to the 1961 failed invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs by 1,500 CIA-trained exiles. AP

U.S.: No formal request from Philippines to remove military

The State Department says the Philippines has not formally requested the removal of U.S. military personnel after its president said he wanted American forces out of his country’s south and blamed the U.S. for inflaming Muslim insurgencies in the region.
Department spokesman John Kirby said Sept. 12 that the U.S. is aware of President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments, but is “not aware of any official communication by the Philippine government to that effect and to seek that result.”
He says the U.S. remains committed to its alliance with the Philippines.
Last week, President Barack Obama called off a meeting with Duterte at a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders after the Philippine leader used the phrase “son of a bitch” in warning that he wouldn’t accept lectures from Obama on human rights. AP

China-Russia launch South China Sea naval wargames

China’s military says the Chinese and Russian navies are launching eight days of war games in the South China Sea, in a sign of growing cooperation between their armed forces.
The Defense Ministry says the “Joint Sea-2016” exercises that began Sept. 12 will include surface ships, submarines, ship-borne helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, along with marines and amphibious armored vehicles.
Tasks will include defensive and rescue drills, anti-submarine exercises and the simulated seizure of an enemy island.
The ministry didn’t say exactly where the drills would be held in the South China Sea, home to heated territorial disputes between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Russia has been the only major country to speak out on China’s behalf in its demand that the U.S. and other countries stay out of such arguments. AP