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Israel behind airstrike in Syria, US official says

CNN logo CNN 6/18/2018 By Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Oren Liebermann, CNN
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 5: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk outside the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The prime minister is on an official visit to the US until the end of the week. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) © Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 5: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walk outside the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The prime minister is on an official visit to the US until the end of the week. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

An airstrike close to the Iraq-Syria border Sunday was carried out by Israel, and not by the US or the coalition fighting ISIS, a US official tells CNN.

Syrian state TV blamed the strike that targeted pro-regime forces and caused multiple casualties on the US-led coalition combating the terrorist group, but a spokesman for the coalition said there were no coalition strikes in the area near Abu Kamal.

The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the strike, per its normal policy.

US officials have said that many pro-regime militias that are also aligned with Iran operate in the border area between Syria and Iraq.

The area is some distance from Israel and Israeli jets would have had to overcome significant logistical hurdles to strike that area.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it would target Iranian-linked groups in Syria.

"We will take action - and are already taking action - against efforts to establish a militarily presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at a cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, two of the key players in influencing Israel's policy and actions over Syria.

Sunday's strike was very different from those normally attributed to Israel. Generally, strikes by Israel occur in the western region of Syria, principally in the area around Damascus and Homs. Recently, these strikes have targeted Iran's infrastructure and military presence in Syria, which Israel has staunchly opposed. Israel also has struck shipments of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon in the past.

This attack in Eastern Syria is hundreds of miles away from that area, and the target -- pro-regime forces -- differs from what would be Israel's usual mark, namely Iranian military positions.

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