Israel blames Iran for rocket barrage fired from Syria
The Israeli military blamed Iran for firing some twenty rockets at Israel's northern Golan Heights region from Syrian territory just after midnight on Thursday, in a dramatic escalation of hostilities between the two foes.
An army spokesman said after the attack that the situation was "not over" and Syrian state media reported that the country's air defense systems were firing at "Israeli missiles" at around 1.45am local time.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not report any injuries on the Israeli side and said that at least some of the missiles were intercepted.
"At 00:10 [local time], about 20 rockets launched by the Iranian Quds Force were identified on frontline outposts," a statement from the IDF's chief spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said.
"We see this as an Iranian attack, and we view it harshly," he added.
#BREAKING: Explosions heard on #Israel's side of the #Golan Heights, as sirens are activated. Earlier reports of Israeli aerial activity in the area. Video: @NaseebSafadi @i24NEWS_EN pic.twitter.com/eMti67iovO— Shai Ben-ari (@ShaiBenari) May 9, 2018
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the flurry of rockets. The Syrian army and allied militias are also present in the area.
The barrage of rockets came shortly after a reported, but unconfirmed, Israeli strike on Syrian government targets just across the border.
Rockets sirens blared and residents ran to shelters in the Golan Heights, an i24NEWS correspondent said, as three series of loud explosions rocked the region. Police also closed roads in the area.
The IDF's international spokesman Jonathan Conricus said that the incident was "not over" and that Israel had responded to the barrage. He added that initial assessments were that the damage caused was low and that no civilians were near the impact sites.
The escalation comes after almost a month of Iranian warnings that they would retaliate against Israel for an attack targeting Iranian forces on a Syrian air base on April 8.
Since then, Russian and US officials have said that Israel has been behind two further attacks on Iranian targets inside Syria, including one on Tuesday near Damascus.
Israel says it will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria, where it has for years provided military backing to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Iran also provides financial and military support to Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in Lebanon that possesses thousands of rockets for use against Israel, according to Israeli estimates.
The dramatic events also come only 24 hours after the Israeli military ordered civilian shelters in the Golan Heights to be opened and called up military reserve units after observing what it described as "irregular" activity by Iranian forces in Syria.
Israel took control of the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and later de facto annexed the territory.
More to come.
Reporting contributed by i24NEWS defense correspondents Daniel Tsemach and Shai Ben-Ari.
You need to be logged in in order to post comments. Sign up or log in