For the first time, the Iranian military attacked Israel, firing about 20 missiles at Israel just after midnight on Thursday night. Four missiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome system. All of the remaining missiles exploded inside Syrian territory. IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus stated that the attack was carried out by the Quds Force, an external arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
#Syria: another video showing #Syrian|n army targeting #Golan with barrage of Grad rockets (MRLS). pic.twitter.com/Y7e2fHXg1l
— Qalaat Al Mudiq (@QalaatAlMudiq) May 9, 2018
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) responded by striking dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria including the missile launcher from which the attack against Israel originated. Syrian air defense batteries responded against the Israeli attack but none of the IAF planes were hit.
Overnight, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds forces in Syrian territory pic.twitter.com/LwBJTMkxYR
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 10, 2018
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed America’s full support for Israel.
“This just further shows that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted. Israel absolutely has a sovereign right to defend itself and we support them in whatever efforts they have in order to defend themselves,” Huckabee Sanders told Fox News. The Syrian attack comes one day after US President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal. “Again, I think this activity and this action is just further demonstration that the Iranian regime cannot be trusted and another good reminder that the president made the right decision to get out of the Iran deal.”
Russia has a large military presence in Syria including advanced radar and anti-air systems supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Nonetheless, no Russian intervention was reported. This may be the result of an unscheduled meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
“I told President Putin that it is our right and indeed our duty to take any steps required for to safeguard our security interests,” Netanyahu told reporters on a telephone briefing from Moscow airport after completing his meeting with Putin. Netanyahu noted that Israel has launched air attacks into Syria in the past and Russia has not intervened. “I have no basis for thinking that things will be different this time.”
The attack on Israel comes in the wake of Iranian threats of retaliation for Israeli airstrikes that killed Iranian military personnel in Syria. In February, an Iranian drone armed with missiles sent from the T4 base in Syria penetrated Israeli airspace and was shot down by an IAF Apache helicopter. Israel retaliated with an airstrike that targeted the base of origin.
On April 9, a missile attack targeting the T4 base killed about 14 military personnel including seven Iranians. On April 29, a missile strike hit military targets near Hama and Aleppo, killing at least 26 military personnel, most of whom were believed to be Iranian. The Israeli government did not comment on their possible involvement in these attacks.
On a strange note, Times of Israel reported that Fares Shehabi, a Syrian Member of Parliament, tweeted that the rocket barrage aimed at Israel was initiated by Syria and not Iran.
The Syrian army (not Iranians) launched 50 rockets (not 20) to several Israeli army targets in the Golan, and most rockets hit their targets.
— Fares Shehabi MP (@ShehabiFares) May 9, 2018