Israel strikes 'nearly all' Iranian infrastructure in Syria after Iran rocket attack, minister says
Israel said it struck "nearly all" of the Iranian infrastructure sites in Syria on Thursday, in direct response to a barrage of Iranian rocket fire targeting Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights.
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) said it deployed fighter jets that struck every target on its list. The targets included military compounds, intelligence operations and munition warehouses, a statement read. The strikes were Israel's largest air operation in years, the statement read.
The missile launcher responsible for the Iranian rocket strikes was destroyed, according to the release.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman, called the roughly 20 missiles fired from Iranian forces based in Syria "the most severe attempt" by Iran's Al Quds force to attack the country. It was the first time Iranian forces have attacked Israel from Syria, according to Reuters.
Conricus said four rockets were intercepted and the others fell short of their targets. No injuries or damage was reported.
"The IDF will not allow the Iranian threat to establish itself in Syria. The Syrian regime will be held accountable for everything happening in its territory," the press release read. "The IDF is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios."
Syria's state media said Syrian air defenses intercepted "hostile Israeli missiles" early Thursday that were fired over southwestern Damascus. Hours later, state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast a live feed of Syrian air defenses firing into the sky above the capital, and loud explosions and air defense firing were heard through the night.
There was no immediate information about Iranian causalities, but Conricus said the main intent was to target hardware rather than personnel.
Israel warned Russia ahead of the airstrikes on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just returned from a trip with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the ongoing situation in Syria, where Russia also has a military presence backing Assad.
But Israel and Russia have maintained close communications to prevent their air forces from coming into conflict.
Syrian media claimed earlier that the hostilities began with Israeli fire at Syrian positions in southern Syria from across the border, with Syrian forces then returning fire.
Tensions between Israel and Syria have been on the rise as Iran has sent thousands of troops to back Syrian President Bashar Assad. Israel has warned it will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria.
President Donald Trump's announcement on Tuesday to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal has also caused tensions to rise.
Conricus said Israel does not intend to escalate the situation, but noted troops will remain on "very high alert."
"Should there be another Iranian attack, we will be prepared for it," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.Israel, IDF, Syria, Military Bases, Missile Strikes, Iranian Missiles