Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 15 December 2019

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after rocket attack

The military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to the elite Quds force

Israeli soldiers and armoured vehicles are pictured on November 19, 2019 near the border with Syria in the annexed Golan Heights. AFP
Israeli soldiers and armoured vehicles are pictured on November 19, 2019 near the border with Syria in the annexed Golan Heights. AFP

The Israeli military on Wednesday said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria, carrying out a "wide-scale" strike in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.

The military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to the elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases. After the Syrian military fired an air defense missile, the Israeli military said a number of Syrian aerial defense batteries were destroyed.

A war monitoring group said the Israeli strikes in Syria killed at least 11 people, including seven non-Syrians who are most likely Iranians.

The figures come from Rami Abdulrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group with a network of activists across Syria.

The Observatory says the Israeli strikes targeted arms depots belonging to Iran's elite Quds Force in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya.

Two civilians were killed and some wounded in an Israeli attack on the Syrian capital of Damascus, state media said on Wednesday.

Syria's air defences were able to destroy most of the missiles fired by Israeli jets over Damascus before they reached their targets, Syria's state news agency SANA said, quoting a military source.

The strikes further burst into the open what has been a long shadow war between Israel and Iran. The two foes have increasingly clashed over what Israel says is Iran's deeper presence along its borders.

"Yesterday's Iranian attack towards Israel is further clear proof of the purpose of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, which threatens Israeli security, regional stability and the Syrian regime," the military said, adding that it would "continue operating firmly and resolutely" against Iran in Syria.

Israel intercepted the four rockets on the occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday which came amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iranian proxies along its borders. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East.

Israel last week fought against the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza, striking and killing a top commander in the coastal enclave and is widely believed to have struck and missed another leader of the group in Syria.

Iran has forces based in Syria, Israel's northern neighbour, and supports Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. In Gaza, it supplies Islamic Jihad with cash, weapons and expertise.

Mr Netanyahu also has claimed Iran is using Iraq and far-off Yemen, where Tehran supports Shiite Houthi rebels at war with a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, to plan attacks against Israel. Hamas also receives some support from Iran.

Updated: November 20, 2019 11:35 AM

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