The IDF struck dozens of Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria overnight Tuesday, the Israeli military said, in what it described as a retaliatory attack.
“In response to the rockets fired by an Iranian force from Syrian territory at Israel last night, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets of the Iranian Quds Force and the Syrian Armed Forces, including surface-to-air missiles, headquarters, weapons warehouses, and military bases,” the IDF said in a statement.
IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters on Wednesday the tens of targets struck in Damascus, west of Damascus, and the Syrian Golan Heights were carried out within minutes and were all located within 80 kilometers of Israel’s border.
Among the targets hit were advanced air defense systems (not the Russian-made S-300 missile defense batteries), surface-to-air missiles, reconnaissance sites and warehouses, the National Defense Building at the Damascus International Airport which houses the Quds Force headquarters, and other military positions.
“We will not let Iran entrench in Syria,” Zilberman said, adding that the IDF “is prepared to respond harshly to further attacks if necessary. We will not accept an Iranian force near our borders and will continue to work against it.”
On Tuesday, four rockets were fired from Syria into northern Israel and intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. Israeli defense sources said the rockets were fired following a directive from Iran.
“We showed the Iranians we have the capabilities to react forcefully,” said a senior Israeli defense official on Wednesday morning. “We know they have casualties and probably also fatalities.”
Syrian state news agency SANA reported earlier that Israeli fighter jets had attacked targets in the Damascus area at around 1:20 a.m. According to the agency, Syrian air defense systems intercepted several missiles before they were able to reach their targets.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes killed 23 people, including 16 non-Syrian fighters, likely Iranians.
After the strikes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “I made it clear that whoever harms us – we will strike back. This is what we did tonight against military targets of Iran’s Quds Force and Syrian military targets in Syria after rockets were fired at Israel last night.”
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said, “The rules have changed: whoever fires on Israel during the day will not sleep at night. Our message to the leaders of Iran is simple: you are no longer immune. Any place you dispatch your tentacles, we will chop them off.”
[Sources: Reuters, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post]