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UK’s May phones Israel PM over rocket attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) meets with British Prime Minister Theresa May (R) during his official visit in London, UK on 2 November 2017 [United Kingdom Prime Ministry/Anadolu Agency]

British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned Iran in a phone call Thursday with her Israeli counterpart after Israel accused Tehran of firing rockets from Syria on Israeli forces, Anadolu reports.

“We strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression,” May said while speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a government statement.

She also “noted our statement calling on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides”.

May and Netanyahu “agreed it was vital for the international community to continue working together to counter Iran’s destabilizing regional activity and for Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks”.

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May also reaffirmed UK support for Israel, echoing an earlier statement by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The Israeli army on Wednesday claimed that Iranian forces in Syria had fired 20 rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights but said all of them had been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system.

In a separate statement, the Israeli army claimed that its fighter jets struck around 50 military targets associated with Iran’s Quds Force in Syrian territory. The strikes, it alleged, had come in response to “rockets fired by the Quds Force [from Syrian territory] at IDF forward posts in the Golan Heights”.

Abolfazl Hassan Beige, a member of Iran’s parliamentary national security committee, accused Israel of lying about the strikes, denying any Iranian involvement in Wednesday’s alleged missile attack.

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Separately, in the early hours of Thursday, Israel attacked the towns of Baas and Hadar in Syria’s Quneitra region with tanks and airstrikes. The locations are currently under the control of regime forces.

Israeli army officials declined to provide Anadolu Agency details of the attacks.

According to Israeli army spokesman Ronen Manelis, last night’s strikes “significantly damaged Quds Force and [Iranian] Revolutionary Guard targets throughout Syria”.

“Iranian forces will need months to recover from the strikes,” Manelis told Israeli army radio.

He went on to describe the strikes as one of the largest air attacks by the Israeli Air Force in recent years.

May also reiterated the UK’s position on the Iran nuclear deal, noting that “we and our European partners remain firmly committed to ensuring the deal is upheld, as the best way of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,” the statement added.

Johnson, in an earlier statement, said: “We also continue to call on Russia to use its influence to press those in Syria to cease their destabilizing activity and work towards a broader political settlement.”

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