Iran denies attacking Israeli positions | News | DW | 11.05.2018
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Iran denies attacking Israeli positions

Iran has denied involvement in rocket attacks on the Golan Heights that preceded Israeli strikes on Iranian sites in Syria. The UN has called for an end to "hostile acts" as fears of escalation continue.

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Tension mounts between Israel and Iran

On Friday, Iran rejected accusations that it had fired rockets at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights, describing the charges as "freely invented and baseless" and designed to justify Israel's own attacks on Syria.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi also criticized the international community for not condemning Thursday's airstrikes, which Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a retaliation against Iran.

The silence of other nations "only gives the Zionist regime (Israel) the green light for further aggressions that serve only to make the region more insecure and unstable," he said.

A parliamentary defense committee in Tehran also reported that Iranian forces had nothing to do with the attacks on Israeli positions.

"This is another lie from the Zionist regime for propaganda purposes," committee spokesman Mohammad Nobandegani said. He also denied that Iran had military forces in Syria at all. 

Read more: The West tends to 'exaggerate' Iran's role in the Syrian conflict

Dangerous development

Israel announced early on Thursday that its forces had hit "almost all" Iranian infrastructure sites in Syria during airstrikes carried out in retaliation for Iran's firing of 20 rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Netanyahu said that Iran had "crossed a red line" with the rocket attacks.

The attacks were some of the worst direct violence between Israel and Iran in years and have raised fears of a wider conflict in the region. Israel has long expressed concern that Iran could establish a military presence in Syria amid the instability caused by Syria's long-running civil war.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed fears of further escalation in a tweet in which he called for an end to "all hostile acts and any provocative actions."

The secretary-general's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters that Guterres had been in contact "with various people at various levels" about the attacks.

'Right to self-defense'

Germany's Foreign Ministry has sided with Israel. In a tweet, it said the rocket attacks were "a serious provocation that we condemn in the harshest way possible. Israel has, as we have stated several times, a right to self-defense."

After speaking on the phone on Friday, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May also condemned the rocket attacks. A White House statement said the two leaders also "discussed how to best address Iran's destabilizing behavior."

Israel's UN ambassador, Danny Danon, has called on the Security Council and Guterres to condemn Iran and call on the country to remove its forces from Syria.

In light of the divisions within the Security Council over Syria, it seems unlikely that the body will issue any statement on the matter.

tj/ng (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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