Eleven Iranians among dead in Israel strikes on Syria Thursday: monitor

Israel Air Force planes in a 2015 exercise. Credit The Israel Defense Forces via Flickr

Israeli combat aircraft hit Iranian military installations overnight, in response to a barrage of rockets on the Israeli-held Golan Heights.

The attack on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, just past midnight, marked the first time Iranian forces have hit Israel from Syria, where they have deployed along with Iran-backed Shi'ite militias and Russian troops to support President Bashar al-Assad in the country's civil war.

Israel struck back by destroying dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria, Conricus said, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft units that tried unsuccessfully to shoot down Israeli planes.

Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel responded fiercely to an unprecedented rocket attack by Iranian forces in Syria against Israel. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who read a statement on Syrian television, said his country's air defense systems had intercepted "the large part" of the incoming Israeli strikes.

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.

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.

During the operation, about 50 Iranian targets were attacked in Syria, reaching intelligence positions, outposts, headquarters and equipment storage facilities in 16 different locations across the country.

Israel did not comment on the reports, but its government has vowed to stop what it considers Iran's military "entrenchment" in Syria.


The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Kisweh, killing at least 15 people, eight of them Iranians.

President Donald Trump's announcement yesterday that the U.S. would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has triggered uncertainty and threatened to spark more unrest in the Middle East. "Get rid of the Iranians and we can, perhaps, change our mode of life here", he said.

"I presented Israel s obligation and Israel s right to defend itself from Iranian aggression from Syrian territory, against the state of Israel", he added in a statement on Wednesday evening.

Russia, France and Germany urged restraint.

There are increasing concerns Iran is on the cusp of an attack against Israel, several United States military officials told CNN.

Conricus, the Israeli military spokesman, said the military focused on inflicting "long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria" and assessed "it will take a substantial time to replenish". It says they are there as military advisers to Syria.

Israel, which nearly never confirms or denies airstrikes in Syria, did not comment on Tuesday's attack. Israel has warned that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

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