Israel Launches Its Heaviest Syria Barrage in Decades After Suspected Iranian Golan Heights Attack
On Thursday Israel launched its heaviest attack on Syria since the start of the conflict, after accusing Iranian forces in the country of firing rockets at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights, the Associated Press reported.
Israel said it struck “dozens” of Iranian military positions, including weapons storage facilities, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by Iranian military personnel in Syria. It also claimed to have destroyed several Syrian anti-aircraft defense systems.
The Russian military said Israel launched more than 70 missiles and claimed that Syrian air defenses intercepted half of them, according to the AP.
At least 23 fighters were killed, including five Syrian soldiers and 18 pro-government militiamen, the AP said, citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
“We will not let Iran turn Syria into a forward base against Israel. This is the policy, a very, very clear policy, and we’re acting according to this policy,” Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman said after the strike.
“We, of course, struck almost all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and they need to remember this arrogance of theirs. If we get rain, they’ll get a flood. I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood.”
A broadcaster on Iranian state television described the Israeli attack as “unprecedented” since the 1967 Six-Day War.
Thursday’s barrage against Syria comes after Israel accused Iran’s al-Quds force of firing 20 rockets at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights just after midnight on Thursday. The attack was the first time Iranian forces have targeted Israeli military positions from Syria since the start of the war.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said four of the rockets were intercepted, while the others missed their targets, according to the AP.
Thursday’s confrontation comes just two days after Syrian state media accused Israel of launching an attack on a military position south of Damascus. The attack struck a weapons depot and rocket launchers that are reportedly used by Iran.
The SOHR said on Wednesday that the strike killed some 15 people, including eight Iranians, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned on Thursday from a visit to Moscow, where he discussed the situation in Syria with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“I said that we will always maintain our right and our duty to take all actions required to defend ourselves against Iranian aggression. I think this message was transmitted in a very deep, thorough and serious manner,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
U.S. Establishes New Base in Syria’s Manbij
U.S. forces in Syria established a new garrison in the Kurdish-held town of Manbij in northern Syria some three months ago, after Turkey threatened to attack the area, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“After the Turkish attack on Afrin and the increase in Turkish threats toward Manbij, coalition forces built the base to monitor and protect the border (between the combatants),” said Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the Manbij Military Council of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
He said the base also houses French troops.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to attack Manbij after Turkey-backed forces drove Kurdish fighters from the Afrin district in March.
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