BEIRUT:, MAY 10,
Israel struck back heavily after Iranian forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on its army bases in the Golan Heights early on Thursday.
The attack, just past midnight, marked the first time Iranian forces have hit Israel from Syria, where they have been deployed along with Shia militias and Russian troops to support President Bashar al-Assad in the seven-year-old civil war.
A wider escalation in wait
Syrian state media said dozens of Israeli missile strikes hit a radar station, Syrian air defence positions and an ammunition dump, underscoring the risks of a wider escalation involving Iran and its regional allies.
Israel said the Iranian salvo of 20 Grad and Fajr rockets were shot down by its Iron Dome air defence system or fell short of the Golan targets. The Quds Force, an external arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, carried out the launch, Israel said.
“It was commanded and ordered by [Quds Force chief General] Qassem Soleimani and its has not achieved its purpose,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters.
In one of its heaviest barrages in Syria since the conflict there began in 2011, Israel destroyed dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria, Lieutenant Colonel Conricus said, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft units that tried unsuccessfully to shoot down Israeli planes.
“We do not know yet the [Iranian] casualty count,” he said. “But I can say that in terms of our purpose, we focussed less on personnel and more on capabilities and hardware … to inflict long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria. We assess it will take substantial time to replenish.”