Israel launches heaviest strikes in Syria in years

Some 28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter jets fired around 60 air-to-surface rockets and over 10 surface-to-surface missiles on Iranian military targets and Syrian air-defence systems near Damascus early on Thursday,  Russian Defence Ministry said.

The predawn bombings took place after alleged rocket attacks on Israeli targets in the Golan Heights which Jerusalem blamed on Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force.

Syrian air-defence systems managed to intercept more than half of the missiles as they repelled the Israeli attack, the ministry said.

Israeli airstrikes happened between 1.45am and 3.45am local time. Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a security conference that its missiles hit almost all targets.

Israeli Defence Forces said all its aircraft safely returned after one of its most extensive attacks in years. Only four of its missiles were intercepted by Syrian air-defence systems, it said.

The attacks came days after US President Donald Trump walked away from 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Condemning Iran’s rocket attack, the White House said it supports Israel’s right to self-defence. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is responsible for the consequences of its reckless acts, it said.

Damascus said Israel has openly launched an offensive after secretly supporting terrorist groups all along. Thursday’s raids represent a new stage of Israeli aggression, it said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow has urged Iran and Israel to avoid acts that could lead to a spiral of conflict.