The Israeli military carried out overnight attacks on Iranian targets in Syria, while Syrian state media reported the country’s air defences shot down “hostile targets”.
Russia’s defence control centre was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Syrian military air defences destroyed more than 30 Israeli cruise missiles and guided bombs during the raids.
An attack targeting an airport in southeastern Damascus killed four Syrian soldiers and wounded six, the military centre was quoted by RIA news agency as saying on Monday.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday the attacks were in response to a surface-to-surface rocket that Iranian forces fired towards Israel on Sunday.
During a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Jerusalem, Rivlin spoke about the raids and called them “a direct response to the unacceptable missile fire on us,” and added “the international community must understand that the build-up of Iran’s forces in the Middle East could lead the region into escalation”.
The threat of direct confrontation between arch-enemies Israel and Iran has long simmered in Syria, where the Iranian military built a presence early in the civil war to help President Bashar al-Assad fight rebels seeking to overthrow him.
Israel, regarding Iran as its biggest threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah without claiming responsibility for the attacks.
But with an election approaching, and with the US vowing more action on Iran, Israel’s government has lifted the lid on attacks it once preferred to keep quiet, and has also taken a tougher stance towards Hezbollah on the border with Lebanon.