Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria as tensions flare up

Israeli military said that 20 rockets were launched from Iran, prompting it to respond with extensive strikes targeting Tehran’s forces across Syria

Missile fire was seen from Damascus, after Israel responded to a rocket attack on the Golan Height (Photo:Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)
Missile fire was seen from Damascus, after Israel responded to a rocket attack on the Golan Height (Photo:Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Iran and Isreal have appeared to be closer to an all-out war as Israel’s military said its positions in the Golan Heights were fired at with a barrage of Iranian rockets, prompting it to respond with extensive strikes targeting Tehran’s forces across Syria.

Israel said some 20 rockets were fired by Revolutionary Guards. It said "no hits were located" on Israeli territory.

It is one of the biggest attacks against Israel from Syria in decades.

The occupied Golan Heights has been on high alert since Donald Trump confirmed he was pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Several but not all of the Iranian rockets were intercepted by Israeli defences, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman, Lt Col Jonathan Conricus, told reporters.

“At approximately 12.10, 10 minutes past midnight, forces belonging to the Iranian Quds Force fired approximately 20 projectiles – most of them are probably rockets but that is yet to be determined – towards the forward line of IDF positions in the Golan Heights,” he said.

“So far we are not aware of any casualties, any IDF casualties,” he said. A preliminary assessment found there was minimal damage, he added.

On Tuesday Israel took the unusual step of ordering authorities in the Golan to prepare civilian bomb shelters after identifying "irregular activity" by Iranian forces in Syria.

Israel has been anticipating a retaliatory attack by Iran since Israel killed seven Revolutionary Guards when it struck Iranian targets in Syria in April. That strike came immediately after Israel brought down what it said was an armed Iranian drone launched from Syria on a mission to attack Israel.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, the IDF’s Arabic-language Twitter account said its military was “moving” against Iranian targets in Syria and warned Damascus not to intervene. Conricus said Israel had notified Russia before the strikes began. The military later said it had hit “dozens” of Iranian military targets in Syria.

The Syrian capital was shaken with explosions as jets flew overheard before dawn, with residents posting videos online of what appeared to be air defence missiles running bright streaks through the night sky and reporting loud sounds that rocked their buildings.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Iran in no uncertain terms on Thursday morning.

"If it rains in Israel, it will pour in Iran," he said.

Just minutes before Trump was due to speak on Tuesday, the IDF said it had identified “irregular activity of Iranian forces in Syria” and had decided to unlock and ready bomb shelters in the Golan, where it shares a frontier with Syria.

“Additionally, defence systems have been deployed and IDF troops are on high alert for an attack,” it said. “The IDF is prepared for various scenarios and warns that any aggression against Israel will be met with a severe response.”

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