Israel and Iran on brink of full-scale war after unprecedented Syria bombardment in response to alleged Golan Heights attack
“They need to remember the saying that if it rains on us, it’ll storm on them,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told media on Thursday. “I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message,”
Sana, Syria’s state news agency, quoted a Syrian military official as saying Israeli missiles hit air defence positions, radar stations and a weapons warehouse, but claimed most incoming rockets were intercepted. It said the hostilities were triggered by Israeli fire over the border – something which has not happened in several years. SOHR also said it believed the incident began with a volley of fire on the Qunietra town of Baath.
Iranian officials offered no immediate comment on Israel’s claim about the missile fire. According to Syrian army command three people died and two were injured in the attack. It was not immediately clear whether the casualties were Iranian or Syrian.
Israel has largely managed to stay out of the complex seven-year-old conflict next door, although the Golan Heights is restive and authorities have retaliated to occasional stray rockets with reprisals.
Around 100 Israeli air strikes in Syrian territory in the last few years have aimed to prevent weapons smuggling to the Iran-allied Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which also fights alongside Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s troops. Hezbollah, like Iran, is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
As Mr Assad has slowly regained control of the country, tensions between Iran and Israel have ratcheted up, with Israeli officials warning they will not accept a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria.
US President Donald Trump‘s announcement earlier this week that his country would unilaterally withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal agreed between Iran and world powers has also set the Middle East on edge.
While Iran has said Israeli aggression against its troops in Syria will not go unheeded, Tehran’s technical ability to hit back is limited.
Iranian officials are also wary of being drawn into a wider military escalation while they are trying to garner international support to save the nuclear agreement, which gave Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.