The Israeli military confirmed it had carried out air strikes against dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) the air strikes were in response to rocket fire on the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights the day before.
A London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Right (SOHR) reported that the Israeli airstrikes killed 11 people. Among the killed are seven members of pro-Iranian militia.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets hit multiple targets belonging to Iran’s elite Quds force, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses and military bases.
The IDF said that a number of Syrian air defense system were also destroyed after they opened fire on Israeli aircraft.
The SOHR confirmed that arms depots in the Damascus suburbs of Kisweh and Qudsaya, which allegedly belong to the Quds Force, were hit by air strikes . Also, several other Syrian military bases were targeted in Wednesday’s strikes, including the Mazzeh airbase in western Damascus where Syrian air defense systems are deployed.
Syria’s SANA news agency claimed that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the Israeli missiles before they reached their targets.
Wednesday’s strike was the most intense since Jan. 21, when Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on Iranian military targets in Syria.
Israel had said the missile, fired by Iranian forces, was intercepted over a ski resort on the Golan Heights and that there were no injuries. After the attack, Israel conducted a daylight air raid on targets near the Damascus International Airport.
“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 in a statement.
The IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that “numerous targets” were hit and that Israel will “continue operating firmly and resolutely” against Iran in Syria.
According to Conricus ,several important targets were struck, including what he described as the Iranian command center at Damascus airport where senior Iranian officials are based and which is used to coordinate shipments from Iran to its allies in Syria and beyond. He added that Israel also holds Syria responsible for hosting the Iranians.
Tuesday’s rocket fire on the Golan was the sixth attempt by Iran to attack Israeli targets since February 2018, and all have been thwarted, Conricus said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a series of warnings recently about Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East and has vowed to respond firmly.
“I made it clear: whoever harms us, we will harm them. That’s what we did tonight,” he said early Wednesday. “We will continue to aggressively protect Israel’s security.”
Israel’s new defense minister, Naftali Bennett, issued a similar statement.
“The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night,” he said. “Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”
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.