Israeli and Iranian forces fire rockets near Syria’s Golan Heights

Israeli and Iranian forces fire rockets near Syria’s Golan Heights

Tehran: Iranian forces based in Syria fired 20 rockets at Israeli front-line military positions in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights early on Thursday, the Israeli military said, triggering a heavy Israeli reprisal and escalating already heightened tensions in what appeared to be the most serious violence in years.
The Israeli military said its Iron Dome rocket defence system intercepted some of the incoming projectiles, while others caused only minimal damage. There were no Israeli casualties.
Syria’s capital of Damascus shook with sounds of explosions just before dawn, and firing by Syrian regime air defences over the city was heard throughout the night. An Israeli official said Israel was targeting Iranian positions inside Syria. Syrian regime news agency SANA quoted a Syrian armed forces official as saying Israeli missiles hit air defence positions, radar stations and a weapons warehouse, but claiming most incoming rockets were intercepted.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unidentified security official as saying Israel’s attacks inside Syria were the most extensive since the two nations signed a disengagement agreement after the October war of 1973.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said earlier that Iran’s Al Quds force fired the rockets at several Israeli bases, though he would not say how Israel determined the Iranian involvement. The incoming attack set off air raid sirens in the Israeli-controlled Golan, which was captured from Syria in the 1967 war.
Israel “views this Iranian attack very severely,” Conricus told reporters. He said Israel had responded, but did not provide details.
“This event is not over,” he said.
Syrian regime media said its air defences intercepted “hostile Israeli missiles” early on Thursday that were fired over southwestern Damascus. Hours later, regime-run Al Ikhbariya TV broadcast a live feed of Syrian regime air defences firing into the sky above the capital, and loud explosions and air defence firing were heard through the night.
Syrian activists reported Israeli air strikes hitting targets near Damascus. One video posted online showed a large explosion and shrapnel flying in the air. Residents reported loud sounds that rocked their buildings. It was not immediately clear what was hit.
An Israeli army spokesman, Avichay Adraee, said on Twitter that Israel was “acting against Iranian targets inside Syria,” a rare admission by an Israeli official.
Al Ikhbariya TV said Israel also targeted military posts in southern Suweida province, including an air base, and struck near Homs in central Syria. The TV station said the attacks were foiled.
Iranian officials offered no immediate comment on Israel’s claim about the missile fire. Iranian state media reported on the attack and the subsequent Israeli strikes in Syria, relying on foreign news reports.
Syrian media earlier said the hostilities began with Israeli fire at Syrian positions in southern Syria from across the border. Pro-Syrian media said the regime’s missiles then fired at Israeli forces. One TV station, Beirut-based Al Mayadeen, said at least 50 missiles were fired from Syria at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights. Al Ikhbariya TV said missiles targeted 10 Israeli positions.
Syrian media said it was the first time in years that Syrians had fired at Israeli forces in the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory which has been under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967.
Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating an Iranian attack following Iranian vows to retaliate to what it says are recent Israeli strikes in Syria targeting Iranian outposts.