Amid fears of escalation, hours after Israeli airstrikes destroyed Iranian installations and reportedly killed military personnel in Syria, Iran’s air force chief said Monday the country’s youths were “impatient” to fight a war for “Israel’s disappearance.”
“We’re ready for the decisive war that will bring about Israel’s disappearance from the earth. Our young airmen are prepared for the day when Israel will be destroyed,” Brig. Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh said, according to an Iranian news site.
A former fighter pilot, Nasirzadeh was named Iran’s air chief by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in August after serving as the acting commander for several months.
His comments about eliminating the Jewish state were made during an interview with a state-linked news site, hours after Israel and Iran traded blows over Syria.
In the predawn hours of Monday morning, Israeli fighter jets targeted Iranian weapons storehouses, intelligence facilities and a training camp near Damascus during the bombardment, the Israel Defense Forces said earlier in the morning, accusing Iran of firing a missile at the Hermon ski resort a day earlier.
In addition, the Israeli Air Force bombed a number of Syrian air defense systems that fired on the attacking fighter jets, the military said.
“During the attack, dozens of Syrian surface-to-air missiles were fired, despite the clear warnings expressed [by Israel] to refrain from attacking. As a result, a number of Syrian air defense batteries were also attacked,” the IDF said in a statement.
According to Russia, four Syrian servicemen were killed in those strikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said at least seven other people were killed in the Israeli raid, likely Iranian and pro-Iranian troops.
The missile fired on the Hermon, which was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, appeared to come in retaliation for an alleged Israeli strike earlier Sunday against targets in the Damascus International Airport and in the town of al-Kiswah, south of the capital.
But IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said Monday that the rocket attack had been planned months in advance.
“The Iranian [rocket] launch took place after very lengthy preparations and a decision-making process that concluded months ago,” Manelis said in a statement.
The rocket was launched “by an Iranian force from the Damascus area, from inside territory that [the Syrian government] promised would not host an Iranian presence,” he charged.
“Syria is paying a heavy price for its approval of the [rocket] operation, and the fire yesterday toward the northern Golan,” Manelis added. “The Syrians had prepared for the operation, which was planned beforehand. The attack was an Iranian attempt to strike at Israel.”
In response to the Iranian missile attack, according to the IDF, jets bombed weapons warehouses, including at least one at the Damascus airport, an intelligence facility and a training camp, all belonging to Iran’s Quds Force, the expeditionary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which Israel and the West accuse of trying to gain a military foothold in Syria.
All of the targets, including the Syrian air defense batteries, were located around Damascus, according to the IDF.
“The Iranian attack on Israeli territory yesterday was more clear proof of the purpose of Iran’s efforts to entrench itself in Syria, and the danger this poses to the State of Israel and regional stability,” the army said in a statement Monday.
Israel has long accused Iran of seeking to establish a military presence in Syria that could threaten Israeli security, and attempting to transfer advanced weaponry to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.