Israel admits to hitting Iranian military sites in Syria
Israeli jets struck a series of Iranian military targets in Syria early on Monday, the military said, leading Iranian officials announce they want to "eliminate it (Israel) from the Earth".
The Israeli military said the targets included munition storage facilities, an intelligence site, and a military training camp.
The strikes were in response to a surface-to-surface rocket that Iranian forces fired toward Israel on Sunday that was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system over a ski resort in the Golan Heights, following an Israeli daylight air raid near the Damascus International Airport.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday's strikes lasted for nearly an hour and were the most intense Israeli attacks since May. It said 11 were killed in the strikes. The Russian military said four Syrian troops were among those killed. There were no further details on the casualties or their nationalities.
Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the Iranian missile attack that prompted the strong Israeli response was "premeditated". Iranian forces in Syria fired
the mid-range surface-to-surface missile toward Israel from the Damascus area - a missile that had been smuggled into Syria specifically for that purpose, he said.
Conricus declined to further identify the type of missile, but said it hadn't been used in any of the internal fighting of the civil war and had "no business" being in Syria.
Conricus would not confirm whether the measures marked an official abandonment of Israeli policy of ambiguity in SYria, merely saying that it was a "retaliatory strike against active aggression by Iran".
He said Israel had sent warnings to Syria ahead of the attack to refrain from attacking Israeli warplanes, but that Syria ignored those warnings and fired anti-aircraft missiles.
Conricus' said Israel responded by destroying Syrian anti-aircraft batteries. The Russian military said that the Syrian air defences shot down over 30 Israeli cruise missiles, a claim that was doubted in Israel.
The military said the Mount Hermon ski site has been closed.
Meanwhile, Iran deplored Israel's airstrikes, saying it wants to "eliminate it from the Earth".
"The youth in the air force are fully ready and eager to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth," Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted as saying by the Young Journalist Club, a state sponsored outlet.