In an extraordinary statement, the Israeli military confirmed early Monday 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 hours after Israeli missile defenses intercepted an incoming missile over the Golan Heights in the wake of the airport raid. “We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory,” the military statement said. “We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.” Until now Israel has largely refrained from public admissions of its covert military operations in neighboring Syria, in order to avoid large-scale involvement in the eight-year civil war, the AP reports.
The Syrian military said Israel carried out intensive airstrikes with successive waves of guided missiles shortly after 1am but added that Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they reached their targets. The Israeli military had initially declined to comment on the airstrike, though it said a rocket fired at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. 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, including a weapons facility two weeks ago. Iran and Hezbollah are allied with the Syrian government in the civil war. (Last week, a suicide bomber killed four Americans in northern Syria.)