Iranian forces in Syria launched 20 rockets at Israel around midnight on Thursday in a dramatic escalation, less than 30 hours after the United States announced they were pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. In the attack—reported by the IDF Spokesperson in a series of posts on Twitter—a number of rockets were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system. No injuries were reported by the attack, which targeted IDF posts on the Golan Heights in Israel’s north. The IDF Spokesperson later confirmed via Twitter that none of the rockets hit targets in Israel.
Israel’s response was the largest official series of strikes in Syria in decades. IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus tweeted that “dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria” were targeted and posted a map showing hits in more than 30 different locations across Syria. A sizable grouping of those targets were around the capital of Damascus.
“This Iranian aggression is another proof of the intentions behind the establishment of the Iranian regime in Syria and the threat it poses to Israel and regional stability,” said the IDF Spokesperson in a separate series of tweets, following up by stating that “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 Times of Israel reported that the Iranian attack came from the south of Syria. The government-controlled Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said that Israel struck back by firing missiles at Syria, triggering Syrian air defenses. The SANA report claimed that Israel had also been behind a missile attack 24 hours earlier.
Israel had been expecting an escalation in the region. On Tuesday, Conricus tweeted that “the IDF has detected irregular Iranian activity in Syria and is preparing the civilian population on the Golan Heights accordingly, as well as defensive systems. Any aggression against Israel will be met with a severe response.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had been warning that Iran was threatening Israel. Just hours before the Iran attack, the Israeli leader told Russian President Vladimir Putin that “the Iranians declare their intention to attack us.”
In comments released by his office, Netanyahu said of Iran, “They are trying to transfer forces and deadly weapons there with the explicit goal of attacking the State of Israel as part of their strategy to destroy the State of Israel.”
The Iranian missile launches against Israel also came just over 24 hours after US President Donald Trump announced the Americans were leaving the Iran nuclear deal and reinstating sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Netanyahu said that Israel “fully supports” Trump’s decision to back out of the Iran nuclear deal. “Israel has opposed the nuclear deal from the start because we said that rather than blocking Iran’s path to a bomb, the deal actually paved Iran’s path to an entire arsenal of nuclear bombs, and this within a few years’ time,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office on Tuesday.
The Israeli leader further said that the lifting of sanctions on Iran due to the nuclear deal had “brought [war] closer” and led to an increase in Iranian aggression in the region, including in Syria, “where Iran is trying to establish military bases from which to attack Israel.”
Netanyahu also highlighted Iran’s development of missiles and said the overall Iranian threat is “why Israel thanks President Trump for his courageous leadership, his commitment to confront the terrorist regime in Tehran and his commitment to ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, not today, not in a decade, not ever.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 9, 2018)