Israel bombs “dozens” of alleged Iranian targets in Syria

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Jerusalem: The Israeli military on Thursday said it attacked “dozens” of Iranian targets in neighboring Syria in response to an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the Golan Heights. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date.
CBS News correspondent Seth Doane says the purported Iranian rocket attack on the Golan Heights was a potential game-changer. Israel says it was the first time Iran has ever directly targeted Israeli troops. Israel claims none of the 20 rockets made it into their territory; four were intercepted by the “Iron Dome” surface-to-air missile system the Jewish state has been strengthening to fend-off just such an attack.
The deputy of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Abu al-Fadl Hassan al-Baiji, denied on Thursday that Iran had anything to do with the rocket salvo fired at Israel, according to Arabic media. Neither Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, nor Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who often take to Twitter, made any allusion on their social media channels Thursday to the escalating tensions.
Israel said the targets it hit inside Syria included weapons storage, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces. It also said it destroyed several Syrian air-defense systems after coming under heavy fire and that none of its warplanes was hit.
The blistering Israeli assault was by far the most intensive Israeli action in neighboring Syria since the civil war broke out there in 2011. Israel has largely tried to stay on the sidelines, but has previously acknowledged carrying out over 100 airstrikes over the past seven years, most believed to be aimed at Iranian weapons shipments bound for the Hezbollah militant group.
But with the civil war appearing to wind down, and Iranian forces looking to establish a foothold on Israel’s doorstep, Israel has stepped up its response. Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, an annual security gathering north of Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would response fiercely to any further Iranian actions.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Asked by “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan on Thursday whether the U.S. had expected Iran to lash out after the White House decision to pull out of the nuclear deal, Vice President Mike Pence said the they had “been anticipating the potential for some Iranian reaction” since Israeli struck Iranian targets in Syria “a couple weeks ago.”