UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Israel said on Sunday an air strike against an Iranian Revolutionary Guards arm in Syria it accused of planning “attack drone attacks” showed Tehran its forces were vulnerable to targeting anywhere.
A senior Revolutionary Guards commander denied on Sunday that Iranian targets had been hit by Israeli air strikes in Syria late on Saturday, the semi-official IRNA news agency reported.
The Israeli army said in a statement that its planes “targeted the Qods Force and Shiite militias who were planning attacks against positions in Israel from inside Syria in recent days.” The Quds Force is the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman, told reporters that the troops were preparing on Thursday to launch “a number of attack drones” simultaneously in northern Israel and that each of them would have been loaded with explosives weighing several kilograms, but Israel aborted them.
The spokesman did not disclose the actions taken by Israel that day, but described the “attack drones” as being highly accurate.
The army released black-and-white footage from a surveillance camera believed to show Iranian elements on Thursday near a drones launch site.
The footage shows four people walking in an open space, one of them carrying something the Israeli army said was an “attack drone”.
Conricus said the drones arrived at Damascus airport a few weeks ago with “Iranian agents” and were then taken to a compound run by the Quds Force in a village southeast of the city.
Conricus said Israel launched an attack on Saturday after learning that another attempt to launch Iranian drones was imminent.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army had foiled a planned Iranian offensive.
“There is no immunity for Iran anywhere. Our forces are working everywhere against Iranian aggression … if they kill you, kill him first. ”
“Any country that allows its territory to be used for attacks on Israel will bear the consequences and I repeat the country will face the consequences,” Netanyahu said on the Syrian front on Sunday.
In a telephone conversation with Netanyahu, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed Washington’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself against threats posed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the State Department said.
“The foreign minister and prime minister discussed how Iran is using its presence in Syria to threaten Israel and its neighbors,” ministry spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of the Lebanese group Hezbollah and Iran were killed in the strikes.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said two Lebanese were killed in the attack, which he said targeted Hezbollah positions.
Syrian state media said the air defenses had countered “hostile targets” in Damascus on Saturday night. Witnesses in Damascus said they heard explosions and saw their impact in the sky.
“The majority of hostile Israeli missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets,” the Syrian army said in a statement.
But Conricus said the impact of the Israeli strikes was “significant”. He added that Israeli forces in the north were “on alert” for any response.
Israel says it has launched hundreds of attacks in Syria against Iranian targets trying to establish a permanent military presence there and against sophisticated arms shipments to the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.
Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrilla group support President Bashar al-Assad in the eight-year-old Syrian war. Assad’s ally Russia has largely turned a blind eye to Israeli air strikes. Netanyahu’s office said he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Israel had no comment on what the Lebanese army and Hezbollah said were two Israeli jets that crashed in the southern suburbs of Beirut, which the group controls, early on Sunday. Hezbollah officials said one of the planes was loaded with explosives and caused some damage to the group’s media center. Nasrallah threatened to retaliate.
Nasrallah said on Sunday Hezbollah would do everything it could to prevent Israel from sending more drones to Beirut and would not allow Israel to bomb Lebanon anymore.
Netanyahu hinted on Thursday that Israel might be involved in a series of attacks in recent weeks that have targeted weapons depots and bases for Iraqi armed factions, many of them backed by Iran.
The Hashd, an umbrella group for mostly Shi’ite Iraqi insurgent groups, said on Wednesday the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the area with US forces and carry out missions on Iraqi soil.
The US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq denied this, as the Pentagon denied.
Ron Ben-Yishai, a military commentator on Israel’s Ynet news site, said Iran’s plans to send “attack drones” were a response from Tehran to the alleged strikes by Israeli drones in Iraq, adding that the two enemies were using the same weapons.
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