Iran said Friday that Israeli strikes on dozens of targets in Syria affiliated with the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps’ al-Quds Force a day earlier were an attempt to support “terrorists” undermining the regime of President Bashar Assad.
“The Zionist regime cannot stand peace and stability in the region and sees its own safety in making the region all the more unstable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said, according to Iran’s official Press TV.
On Thursday morning, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets bombed over 50 Iranian targets throughout Syria as the Israel air force carried out an extensive campaign, dubbed “Operation House of Cards,” to try and destroy Iran’s military presence in the country, the army said Thursday.
The bombings came in response to what Israel said was an attempted large-scale rocket attack on its territory.
But Qasemi said that Israel carried out the strikes in support of groups fighting to bring down the Syrian regime, calling those groups “proxies” of the US, Israel and their regional allies.
“The repeated attacks by the Zionist regime on Syrian territory were carried out under pretexts that were invented by themselves and are without foundation,” he said, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.
“Today, the main supporters of these groups are directly attacking and invading Syrian territories in an attempt to avenge the many failures of their self-created terrorists and tip the scales in their favor,” he said.
Qasemi criticized the international community, which asserted that Israel was merely exercising its right to defend itself against Iranian attack.
“The Zionist regime’s repeated attacks on Syrian soil under self-proclaimed, baseless pretexts amount to a blatant violation of Syria’s sovereignty and goes against all international conventions,” he said.
The US, UK, France, Germany and a host of other countries including, unusually, Bahrain have affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression.
Damascus and Tehran have often accused Israel and its allies of propping up the “terrorists” in Syria’s years-long civil war. Press TV claimed that the Syrian army has “repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.”
The Israeli mission — the largest air campaign it carried out in Syria in over 40 years — was “very successful,” a senior air force officer said Thursday, but warned that Iranian forces in Syria are still believed to be in possession of surface-to-surface missiles that could be fired at Israel.
The sortie came after Iran fired 20 missiles toward Israel just after midnight on Thursday morning, the IDF said. Four of the missiles were knocked down by the Iron Dome air defense system and the rest failed to reach Israeli territory, according to the military.
The army also published pictures Friday of what it said was an Iranian Quds Force compound in al-Kisweh, south of Damascus, and an “Iranian Logistics Compound” 10 kilometers northwest of the capital.
Judah Ari Gross and AFP contributed to this report.