In an extraordinary move, the Israeli military on Monday morning announced that it attacked Iranian military targets in Syria hours after carrying out a rare daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport.
The statement was issued after Israeli missile defenses intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights after the airport raid.
“We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. We warn the Syria Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory,” the military statement said.
Until now, Israel has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations in neighbouring Syria in order to avoid large-scale involvement in the eight-year civil war.
The Syrian military said Israel carried out intensive airstrikes with successive waves of guided missiles shortly after 1 am, adding that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets.
On Sunday, Syrian state media said the country’s air defenses repelled an Israeli air raid near the international airport south of Damascus, thereby preventing them from achieving their goals.
It said Israel fired six missiles on an area near the Damascus International Airport, out of which five were shot down and one diverted to a nearby vacant farmland.
The Israeli military had initially declined to comment on the airstrike although it said a rocket fired at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.
According to media reports, Israeli warplanes have used Lebanon’s airspace recently to strike deep inside Syria, including attacking a warehouse located near the Damascus International Airport earlier this month.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu recently confirmed that Israel has struck hundreds of targets in Syria linked to Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, both of whom are allied with the Syrian government in the civil war.
Two hours after the reports that Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted a rocket fired toward the Golan Heights, Netanyahu, who is currently is on a visit to Chad warned that his country would harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria.