US army commander visits Israel amid tensions with Iran

A high-ranking US general suddenly visited Israel to discuss "regional security challenges" at a time of heightened tension with Iran and its allies in the Middle East, as Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz confirmed that his country was ready for any escalation.

The Associated Press, General Marc Milli, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with senior Israeli army and intelligence chiefs at an air base in southern Israel and held a video conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The visit comes days after an air strike on the Syrian capital, Damascus, that killed five foreign fighters, including a member of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Late on Friday, the Israeli army said that its attack helicopters had bombed several locations of government forces in response to unidentified munitions fired on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Targets in southern Syria included observation points and intelligence-gathering systems, according to an IDF statement.

The Lebanese armed group has vowed to avenge the killing of its fighters in Syria, and in recent days Israel has sent infantry reinforcements to its northern border with Lebanon.

Earlier on Friday, the Israeli army said that an explosion on the Syrian side of the border destroyed a building and a vehicle in the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and later annexed, and the army refused to provide further details.

Recent weeks have also seen a series of mysterious explosions in Iran, including one in what analysts say is a nuclear centrifuge production facility. Milli's visit also came hours after a US fighter plane passed near an Iranian passenger plane while flying over Syria.

Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes in recent years targeting the Iranian military presence in Syria, where Tehran is a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that in his talks with Millie he stressed "the need to continue to pressure Iran and its proxies."

Gantz said that the Israeli army "is ready and prepared for any scenario and for any threat, and I do not suggest our enemies test us, we have no interest in escalation, but we will do everything necessary to protect Israeli citizens."



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