Israeli Air Force Strikes Iranian Quds Force in Syria
Israeli Air Force Confirms Retaliation After Iranian Attack Against Golan Heights
The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has confirmed that Israeli Air Force fighter jets have attacked dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Force in Syrian territory. Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired, Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday.
The Quds Force is a special forces unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard responsible for expeditionary operations. It is known that the Quds Force has been operating in Syria since 2012.
“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Interfax news agency.
As part of the widescale attack, Quds Force intelligence centers, Quds Force logistical command centers, a Quds Force military center and a Quds Force logistical center in Al-Kiswah, as well as an Iranian military base north of Damascus were attacked. Additional targets included Quds Force ammunition depots in the Damascus International Airport, intelligence systems and outposts associated with the Quds Force, watchtowers, military posts and munitions in the buffer zone. In addition, the Iranian missile launcher responsible for the missiles fired on Israeli territory tonight was destroyed.
The IAF attacked following an attack on Israel performed by Iranian aerial defense systems in spite of Israel’s warning. In retaliation, the IDF attacked a number of aerial interception systems (SA-5, SA-17, SA-22, SA-2) belonging to the Syrian military. All IAF aircraft returned to their airbases safely.
Russia said Syria’s air defence systems shot down more than half of the missiles, while the extent of the damage was still being assessed.
“The locations of Iranian armed groups and also the positions of the Syrian army’s air defences in the area around Damascus and in the south of Syria were attacked,” the ministry said.
Israel carried out the raids after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights overnight.
It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four of the projectiles while the rest did not land in its territory.
According to Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, IDF Spokesman: “The Quds Force payed a high price and it will take the Iranians a long time to recover. For several weeks, the IDF was in the midst of widescale operation against the Quds Force’s attempts to attack Israel. We acted several times against Iranian ticking bombs and succeeded at preventing a number of terrorist and Iranian attacks during the last month.”
Brig. Gen. Manelis added, “The Quds Force, led by Qasem Suleimani, attempted to cause harm to Israel and failed. Twenty rockets were fired by Hezbollah and military Shias using Iranian munition as instructed by the Quds Force, all under Iranian command. None of them hit Israel. Four were intercepted by the ‘Iron Dome’ weapon system while the rest fell in Syrian territory. The types of munition used were ‘Grad’ and ‘Fajr 5’ rockets, 30-40 kilometers from Damascus.”
Russia “Concerned” by Developing Situation in Syria
On Thursday Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for “restraint on all sides”, adding that Moscow was “concerned” at the development.
The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year civil war.
At the meeting Putin also expressed “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a decision Netanyahu supported.
On Wednesday the Russian leader called the situation in the Middle East “unfortunately very acute”.
Netanyahu had told Putin that “it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from (Iranian) aggression”, his office said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria.