Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced today that Israel had destroyed almost Iran’s entire military infrastructure in Syria in a night of intense bombing across the border.
Israeli missiles struck some 50 separate sites in the south of the country and around the capital last night, the most extensive strike in the country in decades, after Iranian forces launched some 20 rockets towards the Golan Heights. Whilst most of the rockets landed in Syrian territory, Israel’s Iron Dome defence system destroyed four of the missiles that crossed into Israel.
Unconfirmed reports estimate that at least 23 Iranian soldiers were killed in Israel’s subsequent assault.
“Iran is the one constantly trying to expand and create new proxies and fronts,” Lieberman told the annual Herzliya Conference this morning.
We hit almost the entire Iranian infrastructure in Syria … They must understand that if it rains here, it will pour there.
His comments were echoed by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who when asked if the overnight strikes had ended of the current round between Israel and Iran in Syria, replied: “The round hasn’t ended yet. We’re at the beginning of the road, but we made significant progress yesterday.”
The latest barrage came less than 24 hours after Israel struck several Iranian bases close to Damascus, in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump withdrawing from the nuclear deal on Tuesday night. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least eight Iranians were killed in the attack.
Last night’s flare-up also came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from a visit to Moscow where he discussed Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Despite allying with the Syrian government and Iran, Russia has generally turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks on suspected arms transfers and deployments by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies. Upon his return yesterday, Netanyahu confirmed to reporters that he had “no basis” to believe that Russia would intervene to limit Israel’s actions in the country.
Israel has repeatedly struck Syrian army locations in the course of the conflict, hitting convoys and bases of Iranian-backed militias that fight alongside 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 Tehran, through Iraq, Syria and onto Lebanon.