Iran warned Israel against the latter’s repeated violations of Syrian sovereignty and vowed to give a “crushing” response to anyone who tries to harm Iran’s presence in Syria. The warning was issued by the spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, in a press conference he addressed on Sunday, November 22, after Israeli airstrikes inside Syria on Saturday.
Israel carried out airstrikes inside Syria on Wednesday, November 18 and again on Saturday, November 21. On Wednesday the Israeli airstrikes near Damascus killed at least three Syrian soldiers and injured one according to Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). SANA also reported that Syrian air defense intercepted some of the Israeli missiles.
Reports say that Saturday’s airstrikes in Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border resulted in the death of 14 militiamen. Saeed Khatibzadeh, however, did not confirm any deaths in Saturday’s strike.
Israeli defense forces however acknowledged their attack on areas near Damascus on Wednesday claiming that Syrian forces attempted to place improvised explosive devices in Israeli controlled Golan Heights. Israel also accused Iranian Quds forces of being involved in the attempt. Iran has denied the allegations and maintained that its involvement in Syria is only advisory.
Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the beginning of the war in 2011, though it rarely owns up to them. Whenever Israel acknowledges an attack, it calls them attacks on “Iranian installments” or “attacks against Iranian backed militias,” meaning the Hezbollah.
Iranian and Russian forces have been deployed in the country with the consent of Bashar al-Assad’s government to help it in the fight against externally supported militias and terrorist groups such as Islamic State or (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda in the ongoing war in the country.
Khatibzadeh also condemned the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit to an illegal Israeli settlement inside the occupied Golan Heights calling it a violation of Syrian sovereignty and a provocation prior to the end of Trump administration’s term.
Israel occupied Syrian Golan Heights in the 1967 war and illegally annexed it in 1981. US president Donald Trump last year unilaterally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the territory going against long held US policy and against the established international law.