The White House has condemned Iranian rocket attacks on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as an “unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East.”
In a statement issued Thursday morning, the White House said Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “bears full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions” and warned the guard and its “militant proxies” not to take “further provocative steps.”
Israel said Thursday its fighter jets struck dozens of Iranian military targets inside of Syria overnight in response to the attacks.
The Israeli military said its airstrikes focused on intelligence sites, weapons storage and logistics centers, and that the jets also destroyed several Syrian air defense systems.
It also warned it would “not allow the Iranian threat to establish itself in Syria” and said Syria’s government will be held accountable for “everything happening in its territory.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a security conference Israel struck “almost all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria.” He added, “I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood.”
Reactions to developments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the strikes against Iranian targets in Syria were “appropriate” because the Persian Gulf nation “crossed a red line.”
Netanyahu also warned Syria that Israel would retaliate if the Syrian military acted against his country.
“We are in the midst of a protracted battle and our policy is clear: We will not allow Iran to entrench itself militarily in Syria,” Netanyahu said.
Iran is a Syrian ally, and its military has been supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Syria’s foreign ministry said Israel’s attacks are the “start of a new phase of aggression” against Syria and will do nothing but “increase tensions in the region.”
Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, another Assad backer, said the Israeli airstrikes were “a very alarming development” and urged both Israel and Iran to refrain from provoking each other.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson condemned Iran’s attacks, urged Iran to refrain from further actions that could destabilize the region, and called on Russia to pressure Syria to work toward a broader political settlement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron called for a de-escalation between the two sides.
Israel on high alert
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported Israeli airstrikes hitting air defense positions, radar stations and an ammunition depot while saying anti-aircraft systems were able to shoot down dozens of Israeli missiles.
Israel blamed Iran’s al-Quds force for firing missiles targeting Israeli military positions inside the Golan Heights, and said no damage and no casualties were reported.
In the past, Israel has rarely commented on its military activity in Syria where it is believed to have conducted multiple sets of airstrikes against Iranian forces.
Israel has been on high alert in recent days after Iran threatened retaliation for a series of airstrikes on its military positions inside Syria last month that killed at least seven Iranians. Iran blames Israel for those strikes, while Israel has not confirmed or denied the attacks.
Israeli intelligence has said it anticipated possible Iranian action after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear agreement with Iran.