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Israel has dramatically expanded air strikes on suspected Iranian missile and weapons production centers in Syria to repel what it sees as a stealthy military encroachment by its regional arch-enemy, Western and regional intelligence sources say.

Capitalizing on a longtime alliance with Syria, Iran is moving parts of its advanced missile and arms industry into pre-existing underground compounds to develop a sophisticated arsenal within range of Israeli population centers, according to Israeli and Western intelligence sources and Syrian defectors.

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