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What is believed to be guided missiles are seen in the sky during what is reported to be an attack in Damascus, Syria, January 21, 2019, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.(Photo by: FACEBOOK DIARY OF A MORTAR SHELL IN DAMASCUS/YOUMIYAT QADIFAT HAWUN FI DAMASHQ/VIA REUTERS)
IDF destroys Iranian weapons, military sites in predawn attack on Syria
By ANNA AHRONHEIM,SETH J. FRANTZMAN,MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
01/21/2019
The IDF announced, "We are warning the Syrian Armed Forces from trying to harm Israeli territory or its forces."
IDF fighter jets struck Iranian and Syrian military targets, air defense batteries and Quds Forces positions throughout Syria in the predawn hours of Monday, in response to the firing of a missile a day earlier toward the Golan Heights
 
The IDF said that the missile had been fired by Iranian forces in Syria with the intention of hitting the northern Golan. The missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome. 
 
The IDF attack targeted military targets belonging to Iran's Quds Force in Syria, including weapons storage sites, a site at Damascus International Airport, an Iranian intelligence site, and an Iranian training camp. 
 
During the attack, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were fired. In response, several Syrian air defense batteries were attacked. 
 
“The Iranian attack on Israeli territory yesterday is yet another clear proof of the intention behind the attempts to establish Iran in Syria and the danger they pose to the State of Israel and regional stability,” the IDF said. “The IDF will continue to act decisively and firmly against the Iranian establishment in Syria.”
 
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said the Syrian regime is responsible for what is happening in its territory and warned it not to act or to allow other actors in the country to take further action against Israel. 
 
“The IDF is ready and alert for a variety of scenarios and will continue to act as necessary to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens,” read the IDF statement.

Iranian field at the Damascus International Airport. (IDF Spokesperson Unit)

Following the attack, the IDF announced that the Hermon skiing site would be closed to visitors on Monday.

Residents of the Golan were told to maintain their routine on Monday until further instructions from the IDF Home Front Command were issued.

The IDF air strikes took place hours after a missile - reportedly midsize and carrying a relatively large warhead - was identified over the Golan Heights. The Iron Dome successfully intercepted the missile which was launched from Syria after Damascus accused Israel of carrying out a rare daytime attack on the south of the country on Sunday.

Pictures from Israel’s popular Mount Hermon ski resort, which was full of tourists enjoying the snow-filled hill, showed two trails from Iron Dome missiles while screams from children were heard in a video from the scene. The interception came shortly after the Syrian regime accused Israel of carrying out airstrikes in the south of the country, triggering air defenses that intercepted several of them.

Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media network, reported the attack near Damascus but gave no further details but Russia's Ministry of Defense said four Israeli jets had afired seven missiles at the international airport, causing no injuries to Syrian nationals. The Syrian regime used the Buk and Pantisr systems to intercept the missiles, according to Sputnik, the Russian news agency.

The Syrian air defenses were alerted on Sunday afternoon as a Mahan Air flight from Tehran to Damascus was about to make its approach to Damascus. At 1:30 p.m. the flight turned around and headed away from the city. A Syrian L-76 cargo lifter from Tehran was also en route to Damascus on Sunday morning. These kinds of flights have been seen as suspicious over the last year amid allegations that Iran delivers weapons to Syria and Hezbollah using different airlines as cover.

There was no comment on the strikes by Israel, which rarely comments on alleged Israel Air Force operations on the northern front, but Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over Iran’s presence in Syria and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon from Tehran via Syria, stressing that both are red-lines for the Jewish State.

Iranian logistics site on a Syrian army base. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

With the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah forces, Israel’s northern front has become the IDF’s number one priority with former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gadi Eisenkot admitting that Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

Israel “operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago,” when he got “unanimous consent” from the government to change the rules of the game and dropped some 2,000 missiles against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in 2018 alone, he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that Israel conducted airstrikes on Iranian weapons near Damascus airport on January 13 and Russia warned Israel against further strikes near the airport. Syria is therefore on high alert for any potential airstrikes.

Nevertheless, daytime strikes by Israel against targets in the war-torn country are extremely rare with the IAF operating during the night.

Earlier on Sunday SANA reported that a bomb exploded near a highway at the southern edge of Syria's capital Damascus. According to the report, an attacker was arrested and no one was injured.
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