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Wednesday May 22nd, 2019 2:57AM

The Latest: Israeli official confirms 200 strikes in Syria

By The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the Syria conflict (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

An Israeli military official says Israel has struck over 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months.

Israel is widely believed to have been behind a series of airstrikes mainly targeting Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria who are fighting alongside the government. It rarely confirms the attacks.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under military guidelines, said Tuesday the targets were connected to Iran's elite Al-Quds force and include air force components, support infrastructure, and weapons storage and manufacturing facilities.

The official said alleged Israeli airstrikes in Syria on Tuesday were not included in the tally. He would not confirm Israel was behind those strikes, which were reported by Syrian state media, and did not comment on them

— Josef Federman in Jerusalem

8:10 p.m.

The White House is warning Syria's President Bashar Assad that if he chooses to use chemical weapons again, the U.S. and its allies "will respond swiftly and appropriately."

President Donald Trump's administration said Tuesday that it's monitoring the situation in the rebel-held Idlib province, where it says millions of innocent civilians are under threat of an attack by Assad's government.

The White House says Trump has warned that such an attack would be a "reckless escalation of an already tragic conflict" and would put at risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Russia has been a key supporter of Assad and complained about militants in Idlib targeting its own facilities.

___

7:30 p.m.

Syrian state media and an independent monitoring group are reporting an Israeli air raid targeting government-held areas in the center and west of the country.

Syria's SANA news agency says Israeli jets flying at high altitude above Lebanon fired several missiles on the area of Wadi Ayoun in Syria's Hama province, killing at least one person, and the town of Baniyas in the coastal Tartous province. The attack was launched on Tuesday around dusk.

It says the country's air defenses shot down five of the missiles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported several explosions in the two areas. It says Israeli jets struck military installations belonging to Iran, a key ally of the Syrian government.

Israel is believed to be behind a string of strikes targeting government and allied military installations. The Syrian government accused Israel of striking a weapons research facility near Wadi Ayoun in July.

___

3:15 p.m.

The Kremlin has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump's warnings against a possible Syrian government attack on a rebel-held enclave.

Trump on Monday sent a tweet warning the Syrian government and its allies against a "reckless attack" on rebel-held Idlib province. Russia has been a key backer of President Bashar Assad and has complained about militants in Idlib targeting its own facilities and posing a terrorist threat on the whole.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday reiterated Russia's stance and called Idlib "a hornets' nest of terrorists."

Asked about Trump's tweet, Peskov said such warnings do not take into account "the dangerous and negative potential" of the rebel-held enclave and show that the White House does not have a "comprehensive approach" to solving the Syria crisis.

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