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Israel deploys ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system near Jerusalem

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Israel deployed its Iron Dome missile defence system near Jerusalem Sunday, an AFP correspondent said, as the United States lobbied for domestic and international support for military strikes against Syria.

The correspondent said the battery was set up west of the city.

A military spokeswoman would not comment on the deployment, saying only that “defence systems are deployed in accordance with situation assessments.”

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Late last month a battery of the mobile system was set up in the greater Tel Aviv area, pointing northwards towards Syria. Israeli media have reported that six or seven such batteries are currently in use.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Israel “an island of tranquillity, quiet and security” amidst “the storm raging around us”, without explicitly mentioning Syria or its ally Iran.

In previous weeks Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel was not involved in the war in Syria, but would “respond with force” if anyone attacked it.

The Israeli line on Syria was reiterated in remarks by Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon later Sunday.

“We are not involved in the civil war in Syria unless our interests are compromised,” he said at a counter-terrorism conference in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.

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“We are preparing for the ramification of action — or inaction — in Syria,” he continued.

“To our understanding, our neighbours, especially the Syrian regime, understands that whoever challenges us will encounter the power of the IDF (Israeli military), and we are preparing for that.”

Yaalon noted that “we held a security assessment today”, and the bottom line was that Israel was not reverting to a heightened level of alert in the wake of the developments in and regarding Syria.

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There are fears that if the United States and its allies attack Syria, forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or its Lebanese Hezbollah proxies could retaliate against neighbouring Israel, Washington’s key ally in the region.

Late last month, Iran’s army chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi warned: “Any military action against Syria will drive the Zionists to the edge of fire.”

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US President Barack Obama’s administration is seeking to shore up support both at home and abroad for limited military strikes against Syria in retaliation for what it says is the regime’s use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb.

In Washington, Congress is due to begin full debate this week on whether to approve Obama’s plans when it returns from its summer break on Monday.

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Trump’s Syria withdrawal was an ‘intelligence and propaganda gift to Russia’: report

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In a surprise move last month, President Trump withdrew a contingent of US troops from their posts in northeast Syria, sparking widespread outrage from observers who saw it as yet another betrayal of Kurdish factions who were fighting as allies of the US. According to a report from Business Insider this Thursday, Trump's decision not only undid years of US-led efforts to combat ISIS, it also was an "intelligence (and propaganda) gift to Russia."

Within days of the US withdrawal, Kremlin-funded propaganda outlets were broadcasting from America's abandoned bases in the region while "Russian and other hostile intelligence officials" were mining the facilities "for insights into Western intelligence," Business Insider reports.

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Fiona Hill’s impeachment testimony serves as a warning about US election security and the 2020 race

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During her bombshell impeachment testimony before members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning, foreign affairs expert Fiona Hill not only made a strong case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment — she also gave Americans plenty of reason to be concerned about U.S. election security and the 2020 presidential election. Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, during his public testimony earlier this year, made it abundantly clear that the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin interfered in the 2016 U.S. election and will no doubt interfere in the United States’ 2020 election if it can — and Hill, a former National Security Council (NSC) senior director specializing in Russian and European affairs, gave Americans plenty of reasons to be concerned about next year’s election.

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Trump White House shamelessly uses Fiona Hill’s testimony to paint Democrats as Russian puppets

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Even though former Trump National Security Council official Fiona Hill angrily denounced President Donald Trump and his allies for spreading Russian conspiracy theories during her impeachment inquiry testimony, the Trump White House is trying to turn her statements against House Democrats.

During her testimony, Hill said that Russia's actions during the 2016 presidential election are still being felt to this day, and they've all been negative for the United States.

"Our nation is being torn apart," she said. "Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career foreign service is being undermined... The Russian government's goal is to weaken our country -- to diminish America's global role and to neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests."

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