Israeli forces conducted a military strike on Iranian targets in the early hours of the morning after Iranian forces allegedly fired approximately 20 projectiles at Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) positions in the Golan Heights.
The Iranian attack, if confirmed, would mark the first time Iran has struck directly at Israeli forces after years of proxy war through groups such as Hezbollah, and represent a significant escalation in the conflict between the countries.
Following the incident, IDF spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus stated on Twitter: “Iranian Quds force fired 20 rockets towards forward IDF positions on Golan Heights. Several rockets intercepted. No Israeli casualties.”
The purported military action came a little over 24 hours after US President Donald Trump’s announcement on 8 May that the US is pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Minutes before the President spoke, the IDF reported detecting irregular Iranian activity in Syria, and that it was preparing civilians and its defensive systems for an attack on the Golan Heights.
This morning, hours after the attack on the Golan Heights, the IDF announced on its Arabic-language Twitter account that its military was “moving” against Iranian targets in Syria, and issued a warning to Damascus not to intervene.
The military later reported that it had hit “dozens” of Iranian military targets across Syria in response to the earlier attack, while Conricus told reporters that Israel had notified Russia before the strikes began.
In the Syrian capital, residents reported loud explosions that rocked their buildings as jets flew overhead and posted videos online of purported air defence systems firing missiles in response.
Syrian state media confirmed that its anti-aircraft batteries were responding to a “wave of Israeli missiles” aimed at radar, air defence positions and ammunition warehouses. The Syrian Observatory monitoring group meanwhile reported that 15 people, including eight Iranians, had been killed.
Both the Iranian attack and the Israeli retaliatory action are set in stark relief against President Trump’s move to withdraw the US form the 2015 nuclear accord, which he has labelled a “bad deal” – despite international concern that the US’s withdrawal from the deal would only weaken the moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and embolden Iran’s hard-line political actors.
Israel’s retaliatory strike comes after weeks of clandestine strikes on Iranian military and Iranian-affiliated militant targets in Syria that Damascus has claimed were carried out by Israeli forces.
The latest actions, however, could bring the conflict between Iran and Israel into the open, edging the powers towards all-out war and setting the stage for a tense stand-off in the days ahead.
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