Israel and Iran reached the brink of full-scale war Thursday as the
Islamic Republic's unprovoked rocket attack on soldiers in the Golan
Heights gave way to an unprecedented Israeli counter-strike that
targeted nearly all Iranian infrastructure inside Syria.
The Israeli Defense Force said it deployed fighter jets and used
missiles to strike a range of targets, including military compounds,
intelligence operations and munitions warehouses, a statement read. The
strikes were Israel's largest air operation in Syria since the 1973 Yom
“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.”
Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Syria, May 10, 2018. (Reuters)
The missile launcher responsible for the Iranian rocket strikes was also
destroyed, according to the release.
The strikes came in response to Syria-based Iranian forces firing
roughly 20 rockets at Israeli front-line military positions in the Golan
Heights. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesman, called the attack
"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 White House on Thursday condemned the Iranian assault, two days
after President Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Iran
"The United States condemns the Iranian regime's provocative rocket
attack from Syria against Israeli citizens, and we strongly support
Israel's right to act in self-defense," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
said in a statement. "The Iranian regime's deployment into Syria of
offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable
and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East."
Israel's rockets shook Damascus with the sounds of explosions just
before dawn. 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. The footage could not be independently verified.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Israeli
strikes killed 23 fighters, including five Syrian soldiers. Syria’s
military, however, said early Thursday the Israeli strikes killed three
people, wounded two and destroyed a radar station and an ammunition
warehouse and damaged a number of air defense units. Syrian Brig. Gen.
Ali Mayhoub said Syrian air defense systems had intercepted “the large
part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.
There was no immediate information about Iranian casualties, but
Conricus said the main intent was to target hardware rather than
Tensions between Israel and Syria have been on the rise as Iran has sent
thousands of troops to back Syrian President Bashar Assad from an
insurgency in his country. Israel has warned it will not accept a
permanent Iranian military presence in Syria.
Though Israel does not intend to further escalate the situation,
Conricus said troops will remain on "very high alert."
"Should there be another Iranian attack, we will be prepared for it," he
The Associated Press contributed to this report.