Middle East tense after Israel, Iran trade attacks

Iran and Israel inched closer to direct confrontation after Israeli forces retaliated against Iranian targets inside Syria following what Jerusalem said was a rocket attack on an Israeli outpost in the Golan Heights early Thursday morning.

Responding to a volley of Iranian rockets aimed at Israeli troops, Israeli forces struck out at “dozens” of Iranian logistical and ammunition assets with aircraft and approximately 70 missiles.

Israel’s response also included strikes against an Iranian military position in the Golan demilitarized zone, an Iranian military compound north of the Syrian capital of Damascus, and a munitions depot at Damascus International Airport.

Israel said its air defenses intercepted four of the Iranian rockets; the remainder of the Iranian projectiles, Israel says, fell short of their intended targets.  Israel says no casualties were reported by the Iranian attack.

Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the attack was orchestrated by Iran’s Quds Force, a paramilitary unit associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for military operations outside Iranian territory.

Israel said the Iranian Fajr-5 rockets were fired from an Iranian-linked base near Damascus.

The Iranian rocket attack came one day after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran negotiated by the Obama administration.

Declaring Iran had “crossed a red line” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the IDF’s response was “appropriate.”

“We are in the midst of a protracted battle and our policy is clear: We will not allow Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria,” Netanyahu said responding to the Iranian attack.


Map showing Israel, Syria and the Golan Heights

A statement from the White House blasted the Iranian attack as “provocative” and defended the Israeli military action.

Syrian military officials say the Israeli counter-attack claimed the lives of three and injured two others.  U.K.-based rights group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, issued a statement saying 23 were killed, some of whom were Iranian.


[Reuters] [BBC] [Photo courtesy ALAA AL-FAQIR/Reuters via The Times]