IDF: Iranian forces fire 20 rockets at Israel; Iron Dome intercepts some

No Israeli injuries reported in attack; sirens blare in Golan Heights; Syrian army post comes under fire in Quneitra as tensions skyrocket on Israel-Syria border

By JUDAH ARI GROSS

May 10, 2018

Source: Times of Israel

 

Some 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military bases by Iranian forces in southern Syria just after midnight on Thursday, with some of the incoming missiles being intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, the army said, amid sky high tensions on the northern border.

There were no reports of Israeli casualties in the attack. An army spokesperson said damage was caused to Israeli military bases, but that it was “limited.”

The Israeli army said the missile barrage was carried out by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Forces. This appeared to be one of the few instances of a direct attack on Israel by Iran, which generally operates through proxies.

Syrian state media reported that Israeli artillery fire targeted a military post near the city of Baath in the Quneitra border region, where Syrian regime forces were stationed.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesperson confirmed that the army had retaliated to the alleged Iranian attack, but would not comments on the specific details.

It was not immediately clear if this artillery barrage would constitute Israel’s full response to the rocket attack or if additional retaliations by the IDF against Iranian forces in Syria were to come.

“The IDF sees this Iranian attack on Israel with severity,” said IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

Sirens blared across the Golan Heights throughout the exchange. The IDF Home Front Command instructed residents to enter and remain in bomb shelters.

The spokesperson said the army was still sorting out many of the specific details related to the attack, such as what type of projectiles were used, how many were fired, from where they were launched and how many were intercepted.

“This event is not over,” Conricus said.

A video shared on social media shortly after midnight on Thursday appeared to show the barrage of missiles being fired from Syria toward Israel.

Residents of the Golan Heights reported hearing loud, repeated explosions.

The attack came a day after the military called on local governments on the Golan Heights to open bomb shelters, in light of “abnormal” activities by Iranian forces in Syria. The barrage also followed US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Tehran.

On Tuesday, eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria on a weapons depot of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, a monitor said. The raid struck the area of Kisweh south of Damascus late Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Wednesday.

Syria’s official news agency SANA said on Tuesday the army had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired toward Kisweh, with state television broadcasting images of fires in the nearby area.

That alleged Israeli strike came hours after the Israeli military said it had identified “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria” and called for local governments in the Golan Heights to open their bomb shelters.

Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group backing it inside the country.

On April 29, missile strikes — “probably Israeli” — fired on regime military positions killed at least 26 mostly Iranian fighters, according to the Observatory.

On April 9, missiles targeted the T-4 air base in the central province of Homs, killing up to 14 fighters, including seven Iranians, two days after an alleged chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime.

Damascus accused Israel of carrying out the strike.

A number of army reservists were called upon Tuesday night, the army said. An IDF spokesperson would not elaborate on which units they came from, but media reports indicated they served in air defense, intelligence and Home Front Command units.

The Israel Defense Forces said it deployed missile defense batteries in northern Israel and “there is high preparedness of IDF troops for an attack.”

The military called on residents to listen to security instructions as needed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the US embassy in Israel also prohibited American government employees from visiting the Golan Heights without approval in light of the security situation on the border.

“The IDF is ready and prepared for a variety of scenarios and warns that any action against Israel will be answered with a fierce retaliation,” the army said.

On Sunday night, Israeli defense officials warned that Iran was planning to retaliate for recent deadly airstrikes in Syria, which have been attributed to the Jewish state, by having its proxies fire missiles at military targets in northern Israel sometime in the near future.

Security forces were also preparing for the possibility of attempted infiltrations of military bases and communities in the north, Hadashot TV news reported on Monday.

Tehran vowed revenge after the T-4 army base in Syria was struck in an air raid on April 9, killing at least seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The strike was widely attributed to Israel, though Jerusalem refused to comment on it. (T-4 was the base from which Israel said Iran launched an attack drone into Israel in February.) Late last month, a second strike, allegedly conducted by Israel, against an Iranian-controlled base in northern Syria was said to have killed more than two dozen Iranian soldiers.