At least 10 people were said to have died when Israel launched air strikes against Syrian and Iranian targets in southern Syria on Wednesday, a day after after explosive devices were discovered on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, close to the border.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, several Iranian nationals were among 10 people killed in the attack. Israel said the explosives were planted by Syrian and Iranian forces working together.
Three of the dead were Syrian Air Defense officers, five were possibly Iranians belonging to the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force and the other two were either Lebanese or Iraqi nationals, the monitoring group said.
In a statement, the IDF said its planes targeted the Syrian army and Iran's Quds Force, hitting storage facilities, military compounds and Syrian surface-to-air missile batteries.
"This was a powerful strike," IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said. "We attacked targets near the border and all the way to the Damascus area including a central command center of the Iranian forces deployed near the capital's airport and a secret compound which houses high level Iranian visitors, just south of the city."
Zilberman said the attack on the compound was to send a direct message and that Israel was ready for any retaliation.
"The Iron Dome missile defense system has been reinforced in the north and we are prepared for whatever might come next," he said.
"Earlier, IDF troops exposed improvised explosive devices on the Israeli side of the [border], which were placed by a Syrian squad led by Iranian forces," a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said.
"The IEDs' exposure on Tuesday is further clear proof of the Iranian entrenchment in Syria," the army said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, on a visit to the northern border on Tuesday, said Israel would not tolerate the planting of explosives in the Golan, territory captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to this. It's a grave incident," Gantz told reporters.
Israel has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied militias, including Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. Gantz said Israel held Syria responsible for "everything that occurs on [Syrian] territory."
President Bashar al-Assad's government has never publicly acknowledged that there are Iranian forces operating on his behalf in Syria's civil war.
Western intelligence sources say Israel's stepped up strikes on Syria this year are part of a shadow war approved by Washington in a bid to check Iran's military reach.
First published: 06:46 , 11.18.20