Israel Intercepts Four Syria Rockets Believed to Be Fired on Iran's Orders

Explosions heard in Damascus ■ Israel's intelligence recently assessed that Tehran decided to respond resolutely to any Israeli action

Strike in Syria, July 2019.
SANA/Reuters

Update: Israel strikes dozens of Iranian and Syrian targets following rocket barrage

Four rockets fired from Syria were intercepted over the Golan Heights by the Iron Dome missile defense system, the Israeli military said early Tuesday. According to sources in Israel's defense establishment, the rockets were fired following a command from Iran.

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Shortly thereafter, explosions were heard in Damascus, a week after another Israeli strike targeted a top Palestinian militant in the Syrian capital.

Later Tuesday morning, Syria's Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israel fired five missiles toward targets in southern Damascus. The report said that Syrian air defenses had intercepted some of the missiles, while others did manage to strike some targets. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

The area targeted, the Observatory for Human Rights noted, is populated by Hezbollah and pro-Iran militiamen. 

The military said that there no damage was caused to Israeli communities after rocket sirens awoke residents there early in the morning. There was no immediate official comment from Syria, but the SANA state news agency reported explosions were heard near Damascus International Airport. It was unclear how reliable the reports were and whether Israel indeed struck in that area.

>> Syrian rockets fired at Israel are part of Iran's new deterrence policy

Following the overnight developments, freshly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced that he will hold a security consultation with the Israeli military's chief of staff, Aviv Kochavi, as well as with other top army brass at the Israel Defense Forces' headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Foreign media have reported that over the past couple of months, Israeli strikes in Syria and Iraq have significantly decreased. Israeli intelligence have assessed recently that Iran decided to respond resolutely to any Israeli action against it or organizations affiliated with it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at length lately about the uptick in threats emanating from Tehran, and has warned that Israel will hit Iranian targets if Iran carries out moves against Jerusalem.

The Israeli army's policy is to respond overtly to any attack from Syria. Usually, Israel responds quickly to such attacks, and has admitted in the past to carrying out retaliatory strikes.  

Last week, Israel launched a missile attack targeting the home of an Islamic Jihad official in Damascus, killing one of his sons, Syrian state media said. Islamic Jihad said the target was the home of political leader Akram Al-Ajouri.

The move came after Israel's targeted assassination of top Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata, who was killed with his wife Asma in the Gaza Strip.

In August, Israel said In a rare confirmation that it had struck in Syria to thwart a drone attack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force. Syrian opposition activists reported three deaths in the attack.

The Israeli army said the foiled attack entailed launching several drones at targets in northern Israel.