Iranian Force Launches Missiles at Golan; Syria Says Intercepted Rockets Launched by Israel
Syrian reports late Wednesday night said that Israeli missiles were launched at Syria. The reports, which were not confirmed by Israel, alleged that Syria has intercepted some of the missiles.
Moments earlier, a barrage of 20 rockets was fired from Syria towards Israeli military outposts in the Golan Heights. No injuries were reported. Several rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
The Israeli army is attributing the attack to members of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
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The rocket fire struck near the border with Syria.
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The military said intelligence assessments earlier in the week anticipated that after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear accord, Israel was likely to be targeted by rocket fire and Iran would try to retaliate.
Nonetheless, the army has predicted that such an attack would not lead to a full-fledged war. Tehran has issued several threats over the past month, saying that it would hurt Israel in response to a slew of attacks that were ascribed to the Israeli air force. The latest attack, carried out on May 9, claimed the lives of seven Iranians in the Syrian air force base T4.
Over the past month tensions have been high along the Israeli border with Syria and the army has increased security measures in the area, deploying more Iron Dome batteries across the northern region.
>> 8 Iranians killed in alleged Israeli airstrike on Syrian base near Damascus ■ Israeli actions thwart Iran revenge- for now ■ Donald Trump just put Israel in immediate danger | Analysis ■
After rocket fire was reported Wednesday night, IDF Spokesperson Ronen Manelis told reporters that the attack was carried out by members of the Iranian Quds force and that Israel views the incident gravely. The army is currently assessing the situation and considering whether to hand out more instructions to Israeli residents of the area to fend off should the situation escalate further.
This is the first time Israel directly accuses Iran of firing towards Israeli territory. During the Syrian Civil War errant fire struck the Golan several times; usually local organizations in southern Syria that are affiliated with Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad regime were behind those attacks. This Iran-led strike on Israeli territory, however, is the most extensive of its kind to date.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday that Israel has attacked targets of the Syrian military on the outskirts of Quneitra in the Golan Heights.
Shortly thereafter siren alerts sounded in communities in the north and center of the Golan Heights in northern Israel. The Home Front Command released a reminder on safety regulations to residents of the area; some reported hearing explosions.
The Golan Regional Council released a statement saying that several towns in the Golan were targeted by rocket fire and that residents of those towns are requested to stay in shelters until notified otherwise.
A U.S. State Department official responded to the escalation on Wednesday, telling Haaretz that the State Department wishes to reiterate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement from last week in which he stressed the U.S.’s support of Israel against the Iranian threat.
"We stand with Israel in the fight against Iran’s malign activities and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself. If true [evidence provided by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Iran’s nuclear activity in recent years], this only bolsters our decision to terminate the JCPOA. Iran will have showed the world it’s true intentions. Let there be no doubt."
This attack comes on the heels of a Syrian report Tuesday accusing Israel of carrying out an attack on a military base south of Damascus, which was used by Iranian forces. According to reports, Israeli fighter jets entered Syrian airspace and struck Iranian missiles aimed at Israel.