Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that his army struck “almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria” overnight in response to a rocket barrage at its military outposts in the Golan Heights by Iran.
In his withdrawal speech, USA president promised that he would work with allies in the Middle East to stop Iranian regime’s “menacing activity” that the Iran deal actually helped to fund.
Tehran is wary of a wider military conflagration with Israel that could jeopardize its military achievements in Syria at a time when it is trying to salvage the global nuclear deal and may be limited in its ability to strike back.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Israeli forces conducted what was the largest attack on Syrian territory since the official end of the Yom Kippur War in 1974. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed at least 23 fatalities, with the dead consisting of Syrian and allied soldiers.
Israel appeared newly emboldened as well, partly because of what seemed like extraordinary latitude from Russia, Syria’s most important ally, allowing the Israelis to act against Iran’s military assets in Syria.
For all that Iran’s semi-state Fars news agency claimed breathlessly that Israel had “come under attack” for the first time in decades by “tens of rockets” from Syria, four of the 20 rockets fired in Israel’s direction were actually intercepted by the Iron Dome rocket defense systems and the other 16 fell short – landing in Syrian territory.
Tensions have been rising in the region since President Donald Trump decided two days ago to quit the Iranian nuclear agreement and impose broad sanctions.
President Trump based his decision on a report handed to him by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which showed that Iran attempted to develop a nuclear bomb.
The army also published pictures Friday of what it said was an Iranian Quds Force compound in al-Kisweh, south of Damascus, and an “Iranian Logistics Compound” 10 kilometers northwest of the capital.
Iran made no comment about the rocket fire. But indicating that what happens next is down to Iran, he added: “If it will rain in Israel, there will be a biblical flood on the other side”. Within Iran, it could empower hardliners while weakening the moderate camp that has sought better relations with the West.
“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bears full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions, and we call on the IRGC and its militant proxies, including Hizballah, to take no further provocative steps”, she said.
And so here we stand some 6 years on with the Jewish fundamentalists finding a kindred spirit in Trump, perhaps he assumes he is going to avoid death through rapture?
The Syrian foreign ministry said the Israeli attack indicated “the start of a new phase of aggression” against Syria.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said opposition fighters who chose to stay in the suburbs will hand over the weapons and return to normal life.
This escalation is only the second time that Iran has been accused of directly targeting Israeli soil, following a failed drone attack in February. The casualties included both Syrians and non-Syrians.