TEL AVIV (JTA) — Iranian troops reportedly fired a barrage of 20 missiles at Israel, and Israel responded by bombing Iranian military targets in Syria.
The missiles were launched from Syria early Thursday morning. None of them hit Israel. Israel’s missile defense system intercepted four of them, and the rest landed in Syrian territory, according to Israeli news reports. No Israelis were hurt in the attack.
Israel is blaming the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps for the attack.
According to Haaretz, Israel’s response attack in Syria was its most extensive since the end of the Yom Kippur War in 1974. Israel bombed weapons storehouses, logistics sites and intelligence centers, as well as Syrian missile defense systems. An IDF spokesperson called it one of the biggest Israeli Air Force operations of recent years.
“We hit almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday at the Herzliya Conference, a security and defense convention. “They should understand that if we get rain, they will get a flood.”
Israel and Iran have been at odds for years. Tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent months as Iran has entrenched itself in Syria, where it is a principal ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Israel has allegedly carried out countless strikes in Syria against Iranian infrastructure and weapons transfers to Syrian and Iranian proxies. In February, an Iranian drone was shot down over Israeli territory.
Fears of war have increased further in recent days, following President Donald Trump’s announcement Wednesday of the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. Anticipating a possible Iranian strike in retaliation for the decision, Israel told residents of the Golan Heights to open their bomb shelters Tuesday.
Israel is the United States’ closest ally in the region and has fiercely opposed the agreement, which rolled back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. After the missile barrage Thursday, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told the Times of Israel that Israel has a right to defend itself.
“We are aware of reports that approximately 20 projectiles were launched into Israel,” the official said. “We stand with Israel in the fight against Iran’s malign activities and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”