JERUSALEM: Israel struck what it said were Iranian targets in Syria on Monday in response to missile fire it blamed on Iran, sparking concerns of an escalation after a report that 11 fighters were killed.

Israel announced the strikes against facilities it said belonged to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force as they were occurring, continuing its recent practice of speaking more openly about such raids.

It said the strikes were in response to a medium-range, surface-to-surface missile the Quds Force fired from Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Sunday, which Israeli air defences intercepted.

“The air force struck a strong blow against Iranian targets in Syria after Iran fired a missile from there toward Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“We do not allow such acts of aggression to pass by. We are acting against Iran and against the Syrian forces who are tools of Iranian aggression.”

Iranian media quoted Air Force Commander Aziz Nasirzadeh as saying “our current and future generations are eagerly and full-heartedly ready for battling with the Zionist regime and eradicating them from the face of the earth.” “We assure the Iranian people that we are ready to retaliate against any threat,” he was quoted as saying, though it was not clear if he spoke before or after the Israeli strikes.

Israel said targets included munitions stores, a site at Damascus International Airport that was allegedly the Quds Force’s main logistics hub in the country, an Iranian intelligence installation and an Iranian military training camp.

It said it also hit Syrian air defence batteries in response to dozens of missiles fired from them.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019

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