JERUSALEM: Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has claimed that Israel has destroyed “almost all” of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria in response to rocket attacks on the occupied Golan Heights.
Speaking at an annual security conference in the city of Herzliya on Thursday, Lieberman vowed that if Iran attacked Israel with “heavy rain” it would be met with “a flood”.
“Iran tried to attack the state of Israel,” he said, presumably in reference to the alleged missile attack in on Golan.
“But not a single Iranian rocket landed in Israel; no one was hurt and no site was damaged,” he added.
“Israel will not allow Iran to turn Syria into a forward base for attacking us,” Lieberman said, adding that the Jewish state had “no interest” in escalating tensions but would “not accept” provocations against it.
Late last night, the Israeli army claimed that Iranian forces in Syria had fired 20 rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights but that all had been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, meanwhile, warned Iran that Israel was “not bluffing”.
“Israel conveyed an important message to Iran and to the Assad regime: a message of determination and strength,” Erdan tweeted. “Israel will not hesitate to act against Iranian forces in Syria and will not forgive any attempt to attack [Israeli] citizens,” he added.
In a separate statement, the Israeli army claimed its fighter jets had struck some 50 military targets associated with Iran’s Quds Force inside 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”.
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.
The spokesman went on to describe the strikes as “one of the largest” air attacks by the Israeli Air Force in recent years. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes, saying that 28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 warplanes had fired 60 missiles at Iranian troop concentrations and air-defense systems inside Syria.
Tehran, for its part, has yet to officially react to the strikes.
But 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 in the Golan Heights.
The official went on to assert that there was “no Iranian military presence, no military bases in Syria”.
On Apr. 9, Israel struck the T-4 military airbase in Syria’s western Homs province, reportedly killing several Iranian army officers and prompting fears of reprisal.