Israel took the unusual move on Monday of announcing an attack on Iranian-linked forces in Syria, hitting targets including a training camp, munitions storage depots and a site at the Damascus International Airport, Washington Post reported.
The early morning strikes followed a day of escalation on Sunday with Damascus and Moscow accusing Israel of carrying out a rare daylight attack, after which Israel said a rocket was fired at its territory.
“The IDF is currently striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. The IDF warns the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli territory or forces,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement, referring to the elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month admitted to Israel striking “hundreds” of targets in Syria, as Israel appeared to be relaxing its previous policy of not confirming or denying raids, the Post added.
The threat of direct confrontation between Israel and Iran has long simmered in Syria, where the Iranian military built a presence early in the civil war to help Bashar al-Assad fight Sunni Muslim rebels seeking to oust him, Guardian notes.
With an election approaching, and with Washington vowing more action on Iran, Israel’s government has lifted the lid on strikes that it would previously have preferred to keep quiet, and has also taken a tougher stance towards Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon.
According to Reuters, the Iranian response came from the head of the country’s air force, who said on Monday that Tehran was impatient to fight Israel and destroy it.
“The young people in the air force are fully ready and impatient to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted as saying by the Young Journalist Club, a website supervised by state television.