The Latest: Israel says it struck Iranian targets in Syria
JERUSALEM (AP) — The latest on tensions between Israel and Syria (all times local):
The Israeli military says it struck dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria overnight in response to what it says was Iranian rocket fire at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus says Syrian air defenses fired dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, but no Israeli planes were harmed.
Conricus said early Thursday that the rocket barrage was “the most severe attempt” by Iran’s Al Quds force to attack Israel. Israel says four of the rockets were intercepted, and none of the others reached Israeli targets.
Israel has repeatedly warned in recent months that it will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in neighboring Syria.
Iran has sent thousands of forces to back President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war. Israel fears that as the war winds down, Iran will use Syria as a launching ground for attacks against Israel.
Israel’s military says Iranian forces based in neighboring Syria fired about 20 projectiles at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights.
It says Israeli defense systems intercepted “some” of the incoming rockets and damage on the Israeli side was minimal. There were no Israeli casualties.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus says Israel views the incident “with severity” and has responded.
Israel has been on heightened alert in recent days, anticipating a possible Iranian retaliation. Iran has vowed revenge after blaming Israel for a series of deadly airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria.
Pro-Syrian government media and activists reported earlier that missiles had been fired toward Israel from southern Syria late Wednesday targeting Israeli positions in the occupied Golan heights.
The Israeli army says air raid sirens have sounded in the Golan Heights.
The sirens went off shortly after the Syrian state news agency and activists reported rocket fire from Israel into southern Syrian just before midnight Wednesday.
The Israeli army says it is investigating and has no further details.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says aircraft flew over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, adjacent to southern Syria. There are no immediate reports of airstrikes.
Israel’s military has been on heightened alert in recent days, fearing an attack from Syria. Syria and Iran have accused Israel of carrying out a series of airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria in recent weeks. Israel has not confirmed or denied involvement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has traveled to Moscow where he and President Vladimir Putin will discuss military coordination amid new strikes in Syria blamed on Israel.
His trip Wednesday came as Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital, Damascus, the previous night. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard in Kisweh, killing nine people.
President Donald Trump’s announcement Tuesday that the U.S. would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has triggered uncertainty and threatened to spark more unrest in the Middle East.
Tensions between Israel and Iran are high over Iran’s efforts to expand its military presence in Syria, where the Iranians are a key ally of President Bashar Assad. Repeated airstrikes attributed to Israel have killed Iranian fighters and prompted threats of reprisal from Tehran.