Israel claims it ‘hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria’ in significant escalation
TUNIS - Israel and Iran have exchanged fire over the Golan Heights, raising the prospect of a significant military escalation between the two powers along Syria’s fractious border.
According to the Israeli military, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired 20 rockets into the Golan shortly after midnight on May 10, prompting the largest Israeli strikes within Syria since the 1973 war.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported that “28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” in a barrage that Tel Aviv claimed destroyed nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure within Syria.
That an attack on Israel was imminent was first indicated in a Twitter post by the Israeli Defence Forces shortly after midnight, which cited numerous sirens sounding over the Golan.
Responding to the Iranian rockets, Syrian state media reported that its air defences had intercepted “hostile Israeli missiles” during the early hours of May 10, which it said had been fired over south-western Damascus. Hours later, state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast a live feed of Syrian air defences firing into the sky over the capital, with loud explosions audible.
Speaking at a security conference early on May 10, the Israeli defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman said. “We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria… They need to remember the saying that if it rains on us, it’ll storm on them. I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.
“We don’t want an escalation, but won’t let anyone attack us or build an infrastructure to attack us in the future.”
He also reported that Iran had also been attempting to bring anti-aircraft systems close to the Israeli border.
Israel has largely tried to stay on the sidelines of Syria’s seven years’ of war but has previously acknowledged carrying out over 100 air strikes within the country, most of which are understood to have targeted Iranian weapons shipments intended for the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.
Israeli strikes on its positions notwithstanding, Tehran had thus far pointedly failed to respond. That position appears to have changed following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the nuclear deal, removing one of the critical blocks to Iran’s freedom of action within Syria.
Nevertheless, speaking on Fox News, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, cited the Iranian attack as “just further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the president made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal.”
Russia, one of the preeminent international powers within the Syrian conflict, called for “restraint.’ Speaking through the Tass Russian news agency, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov appealed for a lowering of tensions between the combatants.“We have established contacts with all parties and we call for restraint from all parties,” he said. “It’s very worrying and a source of concern. We have to work to ease the tension.”