19:20 GMT +322 May 2018
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    Israeli Air Force F-15 jet. (File)

    Israel Withdraws Warplanes From Alaska Drills Amid Middle East Tensions

    © AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
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    Earlier, the Syrian state media outlet SANA reported that the country’s armed forces had repelled a missile attack on the Shayrat air base in the province of Homs, with The Arab News later claiming that Israeli aircraft had been spotted in Syrian airspace just before the rockets were reported.

    The Israeli Air Force has decided to not participate in joint drills with the United States amid mounting tensions in the north of Israel, although the country may send some representatives, there will be no planes.

    “Israel’s first participation in the Red Flag exercise in Alaska will take place as planned in May. In accordance with assessments of the situation, the air force has decided to tailor the participation of its planes,” IDF spokesperson said.

    The Israeli Air Force was expected to take part in the Red Flag exercises in Alaska for the first time.

    READ MORE: Israel Hints It Can Hit Iran's "Air Force" in Syria if It Retaliates for T-4

    On April 17, the SANA news agency reported that a false alarm of the Syrian airspace being violated had triggered air defense sirens along with a few interceptor missiles, clarifying that there was no external attack on the country. Early reports by the media outlet suggested that Syrian armed forces had managed to repel a missile strike on the Shayrat airbase in the Homs province, without specifying the source of the attack.

    The report by SANA was later followed by information, provided by The Arab News correspondent, suggesting that Israeli warplanes had been spotted over Syria prior to the strike, with missiles crossing into the country through Lebanon. However, a source at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport explained to Sputnik that the Israeli Air Force aircraft could not have attacked the base since they had not entered Lebanese airspace at the time of the suspected strike.

    Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that two Israeli F-15 fighter jets had attacked Syria’s T-4 airfield in the Homs province from Lebanese territory, stating that five out of the eight strikes had been destroyed by Syrian air defenses. The Israeli authorities, meanwhile, have abstained from commenting on the incident; however, the country’s Air Force attacked the very same airbase in February 2018.

    READ MORE: 'Very Ugly Precedent': Iran’s President Slams US-Led Missile Attack on Syria

    The incident occurred shortly after several Western nations accused the Syrian government of having used chemical weapons in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, after media reported, citing militants, that the Syrian forces had dropped a chlorine bomb on civilians, supposedly killing dozens. Damascus has consistently denied the allegations, reminding the international community that it had repeatedly warned that militants in the region had been preparing a provocation, involving the use of chemical weapons.

    Related:

    Israel Hints It Can Hit Iran's "Air Force" in Syria if It Retaliates for T-4
    Russian S-300 in Syria Will Curb Israel From Operating Against Iran - Researcher
    Israel's Netanyahu Expresses 'Total Support' for Syria Strikes
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    joint drills, United States, Israel
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