Israel said Thursday its fighter planes struck dozens of Iranian military targets inside of Syria overnight. The move answered rockets attacks by Iranian forces on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The Israeli military said its airstrikes centered on intelligence bases, weapons storage and logistics centers. Officials said the planes also destroyed several Syrian air defense systems.
They warned Israel would not let “the Iranian threat establish itself in Syria.” And, Israeli officials said Syria’s government will be held responsible for “everything happening in its territory.”
In a statement, officials at the White House said the U.S. strongly supported Israel’s “right to act in self-defense.” They condemned the missile attacks by Iranian Forces on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told a security conference that Israel struck “almost all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria.” He added that he hoped Israel’s action had ended the conflict and “everyone understood.”
“We will not let Iran turn Syria into a forward base against Israel,” he said.
The strikes were one of the country’s largest air operations in years across Syrian land. They were also the most aggressive attack yet against Iran.
The Syrian military said the attacks killed three people and wounded two.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, watches the civil war in Syria. It said the attacks by Israel killed 23 fighters, including five Syrian soldiers. It was not clear if any of the dead included Iranians.
Iran is a Syrian ally, and its military has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia, another Assad supporter, called for both Israel and Iran to show restraint. French President Emmanuel Macron called for the two sides to pull back from the conflict.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported Israeli airstrikes hitting air defense positions, radar stations and an ammunition storage area. SANA also said anti-aircraft systems were able to shoot down dozens of Israeli missiles.
Israel blamed Iran’s Al Quds force for firing missiles targeting Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights. Israeli officials said no damage and no injuries or deaths were reported.
In the past, Israel has rarely commented on its military activity in Syria, where it is believed to have made over 100 airstrikes against Iranian forces.
Israel has been on high alert in the past few days. The concern comes after Iran threatened retaliation for airstrikes on its military positions inside Syria last month. Those strikes killed at least seven Iranians.
Iran blames Israel for those strikes. Israel has not confirmed or denied the attacks.
Israeli intelligence has said it was prepared for possible Iranian action after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear agreement with Iran.
I'm Susan Shand.
Chris Hannas reported this story for VOA News. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
Words in This Story
dozen – n. twelve
logistics – adj. the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people
infrastructure - n. the basic roads, buildings and bridges that a country needs to function
alert – n. an alarm or signal
retaliation – n. getting revenge against someone or something