Syrian state media has accused Israel of launching missiles at targets close to Damascus in the aftermath of the US confirming it will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal last night.
The Israeli military was put on high alert in preparation for attack from the Syrian border following US President Donald Trump’s announcement, when it noticed “irregular activity” by Iranian forces in Syria, Reuters reported.
Within two hours of the White House’s decision, Syrian state news agency SANA reported explosions in Kisweh, some 12 kilometres south of Damascus. Photos and videos of the site show the destroyed remnants of the Shurbaji Factory as emergency services attempted to contain the ensuing blaze.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated that some 15 people had died in the attack, including eight Iranians.
Videos have also emerged alleging to show Syrian air defences’ response to the attack; the military fired at two Israeli missiles, destroying both.
However, the Israeli army released a statement earlier today confirming that the situation in the Golan Heights is back to normal, although some tourist sites still remain closed.
Israel has repeatedly struck Syrian army locations in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces; on 9 April, an Israeli strike killed seven Iranian military personnel at a Syrian airbase, with Tehran vowing to retaliate.
Israel has accused Iran of seeking a permanent military presence in Syria, and expanding its influence via a belt of territory that stretches from the Iraqi border to the Lebanese border, where Tel Aviv says Tehran supplies Hezbollah with arms.
Netanyahu has repeatedly cautioned that Israel could act against Iran itself after an Iranian drone flew into Israel last month and an Israeli warplane was downed while bombing air defences in Syria. He also accuses Iran of planning to build precision-guided missile factories in Lebanon, amid tensions on that border.
“But if somebody thinks that it is possible to launch missiles or to attack Israel or even our aircraft, no doubt we will respond and we will respond very forcefully,” Israel Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said last month.
Israel had long campaigned for President Trump to scrap the Iran deal and last week, Netanyahu presented what he called evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme in a prime-time address on Israeli television. Tehran dismissed Netanyahu as “the boy who cried wolf”, and called his presentation propaganda.