Israel strikes in Syria in more open confrontation with Iran
BEIRUT/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel struck in Syria early on Monday as part of its increasingly open assault on Iran’s presence there, shaking the night sky over Damascus with an hour of loud explosions in a second consecutive night of military action.
The threat of open confrontation between arch-enemies Israel and Iran has long simmered in Syria, as the Iranian military has established a presence there since early in its civil war in support of President Bashar al-Assad against rebels
Israel, regarding Iran as its biggest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets and those of allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, in Syria, aiming to push them far from its frontier.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets had attacked the Iranian targets early on Monday, including munition stores, a position in the Damascus International Airport, an intelligence site and a military training camp.
Israeli jets then targeted Syrian defence batteries after coming under fire, the Israeli military said, and the Defence Ministry of Russia, Assad’s strongest ally, said four Syrian soldiers were killed and six wounded.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said 11 people had been killed.
Syrian air defences, supplied by Russia, had destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs, the Russian Defence Ministry said, according to RIA news agency.
Syrian state media, citing a military source, said the country had endured “intense attack through consecutive waves of guided missiles, but had destroyed most “hostile targets”.
Israel’s target was the Iranian Quds Force, a special unit in charge of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps overseas operations, the Israeli military said.
It followed a previous night of cross-border fire, which Israel said was prompted by a rocket fired at a packed ski resort in the Golan Heights, close to the frontier with Syria.
Israel did not say who it suspected of carrying out the rocket attack.
Syria said it was Israel that had attacked, and its own air defences that had repelled the assault.