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With Iran in Syria, Israel Reveals Launched World's First F-35 Combat Strike

Live updates on the aftermath of Trump's announcement that the U.S. is pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 9, 2017.
אוהד צויגנברג

Syria said Tuesday May 9, 2018 that Israel carried out an attack on a military base south of Damascus, which was used by Iranian forces. Reports said Israeli fighter jets entered Syrian airspace and struck Iranian missiles aimed at Israel. 

The Israeli military said it identified what it said was unusual movements of Iranian forces in Syria, and it believed those forces were preparing for an imminent retaliation against Israel. 

The developments came on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that the United States is pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. "The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran, in exchange for very weak limits on the regime's nuclear activities," Trump said.

Live updates:

Israel is the first country in the world to carry out an "operational attack" with the F-35 stealth fighter, Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said on Tuesday.

"The F-35 squadron has become an operational squadron. We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East," he said.

Norkin presented images of the F-35 over Beirut, Lebanon, and said that the stealth fighter did not participate in the most recent strike in Syria but did in two previous ones. He was speaking at a three-day conference organized by the IAF in Herzliya, to which senior officers from armies all over the world were invited. (Yaniv Kubovich)

May 10, 2018:

12:35 P.M.: At least 8 Iranians among 15 killed in Israeli strike on Syria, watchdog says (Haaretz)

12:07 P.M. Iran's supreme leader slams 'silly' Trump speech in first remarks since U.S. quits nuclear deal (Reuters)

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei slammed U.S. President Donald Trump, saying "you've made a mistake" and claiming that he had more than 10 lies in his speech.

11:50 A.M.: 'Only offensives today can prevent violence and war tomorrow,' says Israeli intelligence minister (Noa Landau)

Israel's Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz spoke to reporters regarding the airstrike Tuesday night attributed to Israel, saying "no one will do this direct work for us," and added that Israel is cooperating with the U.S.

Addressing Iran, Katz said: "They threatened, publically and through emissaries, to harm Israel. We are defending our soldiers and citizen and acting through intelligence gathered, through all our capabilities to detect and prevent" offensives.

11:05 A.M: Iran's Revolutionary Guards: Europeans 'tied to' U.S. – 'fate of Iran deal is clear' (Reuters)

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Europeans were tied to the United States and cast doubt on their ability to save the nuclear deal spurned by U.S. President Donald Trump. 

Britain, Germany and France have urged Trump not to take steps that would make life harder for other countries that still want to stick to the Iran nuclear deal. But Guards commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said they could not act on their own. 

"It's clear that the Europeans cannot make an independent decision between Iran and America and are tied to America," he said, according to a report on Fars News. "The fate of the Iran deal is clear." 

10:26 A.M.: France: Iran deal 'not dead' despite U.S. pullout, talks slated with Tehran (Reuters)

France's foreign minister said the nuclear deal with Iran was "not dead" despite U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out from the agreement, adding that French President Emmanuel Macron would speak later in the day to Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani.
 
"The deal is not dead. There's an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there," the minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, told French radio station RTL. 

10:15 A.M.: Netanyahu before Putin meet: Israel-Russia military coordination must be ensured in light of Syria events (Noa Landau)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the importance of "continued coordination" between the Israeli and Russian military against the backdrop of current events in Syria. 

Upon his departure for Moscow, Netanyahu told reporters that his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is especially important. "In light of what is currently happening in Syria, it is necessary to ensure the continued coordination between the Russian military and the IDF," Netanyahu said.

10:10 A.M.: Trump quits Iran deal: A career-defining moment for Netanyahu that may have a price (Noa Landau, Analysis)

Twenty-five years ago an up-and-coming Likud legislator published a column on the Iranian nuclear threat. Now let's see if Israel gets what he wished for.

9:24 A.M.: WATCH: Iranian lawmakers burn U.S. flag in parliament (AP)

Iranian hard-line lawmakers lit a paper U.S. flag on fire at parliament Wednesday after Trump's nuclear deal pullout, shouting, "Death to America!" Political observers say it's the first time they can remember anything being burned inside the parliament.

8:37 A.M.: U.S. Jews torn over Trump's exit from Iran nuclear deal (Amir Tibon)

Many fear that renewed debate over the deal could open up wounds from 2015 – when the agreement went into place – causing divisions and increasing tensions within the community.

4:59 A.M.: Japan says will closely watch impact of U.S. withdrawal from Iran deal (Reuters)

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Japan would closely monitor the impact of the U.S. decision to withdraw from the deal. Kono said Japan would continue close talks with related nations towards maintaining a deal, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

4:41 A.M.: A disastrous pullout (Haaretz Editorial)

Netanyahu might think that Israelis should be grateful to Trump, but at this point the U.S. pullout endangers the world and threatens Israel.

4:00 A.M.: UN secretary general 'deeply concerned' by U.S. withdrawal (DPA)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a statement the deal "represents a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy and has contributed to regional and international peace and security." Concerns about the deal should be dealt with through its own mechanisms, and issues not directly related to it "should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments," Guterres added.

3:56 A.M.: From Iran to Syria, Israel and the U.S. are in tune (Amos Harel, Analysis)

Trump and Netanyahu are united over abandoning the nuclear deal, encouraging regime change in Iran and blocking it in Syria. Exiting the deal heralds a strategic change amid growing tensions on Israel's northern border.

3:15 A.M.: NATO's Stoltenberg calls for 'comprehensive solution' to Iran nukes issue (Reuters)

"As the U.S. withdraws from the Iran deal, we encourage all parties to work for a comprehensive political solution to move Iran further away from developing nuclear weapons," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said according to NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.

1:18 A.M.: Nixing nuclear deal turns Rohani into lame duck, empowers conservatives in Tehran (Zvi Bar'el, Analysis)

Trump’s decision to exit the nuclear agreement actually presents Iran as the responsible country, one upholding the agreement to the letter.

1:15 A.M.: Trump and Netanyahu are triggering a risky, unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East (Daniel Levy, Opinion)

But neither Israel's prime minister, nor other regional U.S. allies, have any assurances America will stick around to manage the dangerous fallout from the Iran deal's implosion.

12:46 A.M.: Trump, Macron speak, 'reaffirm their shared commitment to peace and stability in the Middle East,' White House says (Reuters)

12:33 A.M.: Explosions near Damascus reportedly caused by Israel bombing Iranian missiles to thwart imminent attack (Yaniv Kubovich, Amir Tibon)

12:26 A.M.: Syrians report another Israeli strike on Assad targets; rocket alerts sound in Golan Heights (Haaretz)

May 9, 2018

6:51 P.M.: Trump says Iran sanctions will go into effect "very shortly" (Reuters)

Trump said that Iran "will negotiate" or "something will happen." He said that, if Tehran starts up their nuclear program, there will be "very severe consequences."

6:41: Iran Government spokesperson: Iran has drawn up a plan proportional to the U.S. withdrawl from the nuclear deal (Reuters)

6:00 P.M.: France's Macron tells Iran's Rohani to stick with nuclear deal (Reuters)

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani in a telephone call on Wednesday to respect in entirety the 2015 nuclear deal despite the U.S. decision to pull out of it. 

"The French president and the Iranian president agreed to continue their joint work with all concerned states in order to keep implementing the nuclear deal and preserve regional stability," Macron's office said in a statement. 

Macron assured Rohani of France's desire to keep the nuclear accord alive and pressed Tehran to do the same. 

5:09 P.M.: U.S. to work with allies to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon, Mattis says (Reuters)

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that the United States will continue to work with allies to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.

"We will continue to work alongside our allies and partners to ensure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon, and will work with others to address the range of Iran's malign influence," Mattis said before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. 

"This Administration remains committed to putting the safety, interests, and well-being of our citizens first," Mattis said. 

Mattis also said that he did not anticipate asking for more funding for the U.S. military. "I do not anticipate asking for more dollars. Should Iran do something, that is a different issue. But no, I am not coming to you with an additional supplemental funding request," Mattis said.

4:51 P.M.: Iranian Students protest outside former U.S. embassy in Tehran (Reuters)

Iranian students gathered outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran on Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, according to Fars News. 

The students chanted "Death to America" and "The only demand is to burn the nuclear deal" and burned the American flag, according to Fars News. 

The report did not indicate how many students attended the protest. 

4:48 P.M.:  Iraq foreign ministry says Trump's decision on Iran ''hasty and rash'' (Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out from the international nuclear deal with Iran is ''hasty and rash,'' Iraq's foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The ministry said it was following with ''deep concern the dangerous developments'' resulting from Trump's decision. It said the nuclear agreement ''had contributed to Middle East peace.''

4:37 P.M.: Germany aims to shield firms after U.S. withdrawal from Iran deal (Reuters)

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz vowed on Wednesday to try to protect European companies from any adverse effects from U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from an international nuclear deal with Iran and reinstate sanctions. 

"We'll try to do everything in our means so that European companies will be affected as little as possible," said Scholz at a news conference, adding it would take some time to get clarity about the consequences. 

4:31 P.M. Netanyahu thanks Putin for talks on 'ways to remove threats' (Noa Landau)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday thanked President Vladimir Putin for "the chance of discussing regional issues and the attempts to solve crises and remove threats in a responsible manner."

4:23 P.M.: Iran's defense minister: Iran can't be threatened militarily by any foreign power (Reuters)

Iran cannot be militarily threatened by any foreign power, its defense minister said on Wednesday, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, a day after the United States pulled out of Iran's 2015 international nuclear deal. 

"Today, with attention to the defensive power of our country, we're in a situation that Islamic Iran cannot be militarily threatened by any foreign power," Amir Hatami said. 

Hatami pointed to Iran's military role combating "takfiri" fighters in Iraq and Syria as a recent achievement of the Islamic Republic's armed forces. Officials in predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran often refer to Sunni Muslim radicals as "takfirist." 

3:07 P.M.: Britain says world should hold Trump to his word on finding new Iran solution (Reuters)

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the world should hold U.S. President Donald Trump to his stated aim of finding a new solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. 

Speaking to the British parliament, Johnson said it was now up to the United States to come forward with concrete proposals on Iran. 

3:04 P.M.: Britain looking at impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran (Reuters)

Britain is looking at information as the government receives it from the United States over the impact of new sanctions on Iran, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Wednesday when asked whether assurances had been sought for companies. 

"We're obviously at an early point in this process and we're looking at information as we receive it from the U.S," he told reporters. "But that is obviously something we'll be talking about with our European counterparts as well." 

2:47 P.M.: India calls for dialogue to solve Iran deal dispute (Reuters) 

India called for diplomacy to resolve the dispute over the Iran nuclear deal after the United States announced it was pulling out of the accord.

New Delhi has longstanding ties with Iran, which is also one of its top oil suppliers. But it has also developed close political and security ties with the United States and the foreign ministry was measured in its response to Trump's decision.

"All parties should engage constructively to address and resolve issues that have arisen with respect to the JCPOA," India's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

2:35 P.M.: Iraqi PM 'regrets' Trump pullout (Reuters)

Iraqi President Fuad Masum expressed "regrets" over Trump's decision to pull his country out of the Iran accord, Iraqi state TV reported. 

2:34 P.M.: Egypt: Arab world must have say in any new Iran deal (Reuters)

Egypt said Arab nations must be involved in any future efforts to amend the Iran deal following Trump's decision to withdraw from it. 

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also said Iran must abide by its commitments under the separate nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty "in a way that will ensure that Iran remains as a country free of nuclear weapons." 

A ministry statement called for Arab participation in any future dialogue on regional issues "especially that which is related to the possibility of amending the nuclear deal with Iran." 

Relations between Egypt and Iran have been strained since the late 1970s but Cairo says it engages with the Islamic Republic in multilateral forums. 

2:33 P.M.: Dumping Iran deal may well spur regime change. But it could be Trump's. Or Bibi's (Bradley Burston, Opinion)

2:07 P.M.: Despite fear of Iranian revenge over Syria strike, schools run as usual in Israel's north (Yaniv Kubovich, Noa Shpigel)

Schools are functioning as usual in northern Israel on Wednesday despite tensions along the Syrian border, according to Israeli army spokesperson. The Israeli army has ordered to open bomb shelters in parts of Israel's north. The Education Ministry cancelled all field trips planned for the Golan Heights.

1:07 P.M.: Belgium: European nations should expand economic relations with Iran to promote peace (AP)

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said that instead of scuttling the nuclear deal with Iran, as the United States has done, others should consider expanding economic relations instead, to promote peace and good relations.

Michel told VRT network that at a European Union summit next week, the 28 leaders need to throw their full weight behind the agreement, "but perhaps also to expand the deal."

Michel said that "together with our partners in the world we must see perhaps whether to develop an economic element." He added that "we can promote stability in the region by reinforcing our economic exchanges."

The 28 EU leaders will have a summit in Sofia on May 17 and the Iranian nuclear deal has been put on the agenda.

12:50 P.M.: Germany says wants to keep Iran deal, U.S. gave no alternative (Reuters)

Germany wants to preserve the deal with Iran because Trump did not offer an alternative to halt the Islamic Republic from making atomic weapons after he pulled out of the agreement, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said. 

"The deal is working. We want to keep in place the controls and transparency rules," Maas said during a news conference. "This is especially so given that it is totally unclear what the U.S. envisages as an alternative to the deal that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons while being able to verify compliance." 

12:46 P.M.: Israel's preventative actions spoil Iran's revenge from Syria - for now (Amos Harel, Analysis)

12:36 P.M.: Erdogan says U.S. will be 'the loser' of Iran deal pullout (DPA)

The United States will be "the loser" for its withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks to CNN International that were carried by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency.

"America will be the loser here, because you do not abide by the agreement you have reached," Erdogan said, according to Anadolu. "You cannot just make or break an international agreement as you like."

The U.S. decision to pull out "will lead to new conflicts and instability," Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter on Wednesday. "Turkey maintains its firm stance against all nuclear weapons, regardless of who owns them," Kalin added.