Israeli ministers said on Sunday morning that Tel Aviv claimed responsibility for an overnight air raid in Syria alleging that it had prevented an Iranian drone strike on Israel and to send a message to Tehran that it should not feel “safe anywhere”.
“We are taking responsibility for the attack in Syria and are saying that Iran should feel it is not safe anywhere. Iran is working day and night all over the Middle East in order to build an empire that has set for itself the goal of destroying Israel”, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Channel 13 TV news.
Likewise, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Kan public radio that Israel publicly acknowledged the airstrike to demonstrate that Iran “has no immunity anywhere”: “The [Syria] action was intended to cut the head off the snake”.
Meanwhile, the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) has cited a senior revolutionary guards commander as denying that Iranian targets were hit in the Israeli raid.
“This is a lie and not true. […] Israel and the United States do not have the power to attack Iran’s various centres, and our (military) advisory centres have not been harmed”, Revolutionary Guards Maj. Gen. Mohsen Rezaei said, per ILNA.
The remarks by the two ministers echoed a statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defence minister, issued just minutes after the Israeli military announced the attack.
“Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. I have directed that our forces be prepared for any scenario. We will continue to take determined and responsible action against Iran and its proxies for the security of Israel”, he said.
The confirmation of the strike followed a SANA report on Saturday that Syria’s air defences were repelling “enemy targets” over Damascus, with most of them supposedly being shot down.
Shortly thereafter, the Israel Defence Forces tweeted that Israeli warplanes had hit alleged “Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite Militia targets” in Syria to thwart what it claimed was a looming “large-scale” drone attack on Israel.
In the aftermath of the strikes, IDF spokesperson Lt. Gen. Jonathan Conricus said forces had been put on high alert near the Syrian border.
“The IDF is prepared to continue defending the State of Israel against any attempts to harm it and holds Iran and the Syrian regime directly responsible for the thwarted attack”, he said.
Israel previously admitted to conducting hundreds of airstrikes against Syria in the past few year, claiming that the raids were aimed at countering an alleged Iranian military presence in the country. While Damascus has strongly condemned the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, Tehran has on numerous occasions emphasised that its presence in Syria has only been limited to sending advisers to help fight terrorism.