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Russia Says Israeli Strikes On Syria Threatened Two Civilian Flights

Smoke rises during Israeli airstrikes past a mountain as seen from Damascus countryside, Syria December 25, 2018
MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) -

Russia's Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that Israeli missile strikes in Syria the previous day had directly threatened two civilian flights, Interfax news agency reported.

The ministry, which did not specify which flights had been threatened, added that Syrian air defenses had destroyed 14 of 16 Israeli missiles launched against unspecified targets near Damascus on Tuesday.

Three Syrian soldiers were injured in the strikes, Syrian state media reported.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reported missile strikes and the Russian allegations.

Addressing a graduation ceremony for new pilots at an Israeli air force base on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to specific attacks or Moscow's criticism. But he reiterated Israel's intention to prevent "Iranian military entrenchment, which is directed against us" in Syria.

"We will act against it, vigorously and continuously, including during the current period," Netanyahu said.

During the more than seven-year war in neighboring Syria, Israel has grown deeply alarmed by the expanding clout of arch-enemy Iran, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israel's air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in the Syrian conflict.