Syrian air defence batteries responding to what the Syrian state media said were Israeli missiles targeting Damascus, in a picture taken early on January 21st, 2019.
(photo credit: STR / AFP)
The IDF confirmed that jets and attack helicopters struck a number of military targets in Syria in retaliation for the rocket fire, including two artillery batteries, a number of observation posts near the border and an SA-2 air defense battery, in retaliation for the SAF rocket fire.
IDF attacks military targets in Syria June 2, 2019 (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
The Israel Air Force struck several Syrian military positions in southwestern Damascus and Quneitra, killing three Syrian Armed Force (SAF) soldiers and injuring seven others, in retaliation for rockets fired earlier into northern Israel.
“Last night, two rockets were launched from Syria to Israel, one landing within Israeli territory,” the IDF said. “In response, we struck a number of Syrian Armed Forces military targets. We hold the Syrian regime accountable and will firmly operate against any attempt to harm Israeli civilians.”
Syria’s state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying the strikes began at 3:22 a.m. and came from the direction of the Golan Heights targeting positions in southwestern Damascus. A second wave came at 4:10 a.m. against targets in the eastern part of Quneitra, resulting in the deaths of three soldiers and injuring seven others. They also caused material damage, the report said.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the strike outside of Damascus targeted a training facility for Iranian and Hezbollah forces, and an arms depot in the area of al-Kiswah.
During the strikes, Syrian anti-aircraft batteries fired missiles toward the jets leading Israel to activate their air defense systems. No projectiles were believed to have landed inside Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he had “instructed the IDF to take strong action” in response to the rocket fire on Saturday one of which targeted the ski resort on Mount Hermon, while the other landed inside Syrian territory.
“We are not prepared to tolerate rocket fire at our territory and will respond with great force to any aggression against us,” he said, adding that “This has consistently been my policy, and this is what we will continue to do for Israel’s security.”
There were no incoming rocket sirens activated and no interception of the rockets. The military said that there was no damage or injuries.
The rockets fired on Saturday are not believed to be spillover from internal fighting in Syria as was the case in past rocket fire on Israel’s North as there are not any Syrian operations in the area close to the border with the Golan Heights.
According to some reports, the rockets fired Saturday night appeared to have been fired from the area of Damascus, 40 km. away, similar to the January attack against Mount Hermon which the IDF said at the time was a “premeditated” attack which Iran had hoped would deter Israel from carrying out airstrikes against their assets.
During that attack, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the Iranian-made surface-to-surface model with a range of some 200 km. and a payload of hundreds of kilograms of explosives that was fired from the outskirts of Damascus.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s presence in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah from Tehran to Lebanon via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.
In April, the IDF announced that Hezbollah has been building a terrorism network in Syria’s Golan Heights without the knowledge of Syrian President Bashar Assad under the leadership of Ali Mussa Daqduq, who spent five years in an Iraqi prison for a 2007 attack against American troops in the Karbala Governorate.
“The Hezbollah terrorist organization has begun an attempt to establish and entrench a covert force in the Syrian Golan Heights that is designed to act against Israel when given the order,” the IDF said.
The Golan Project, which headquartered in Damascus and in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, has tens of operatives in the Syrian towns of Hadar, Quneitra and Erneh which collect intelligence on Israel and military movement on the Israeli Golan Heights.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.