1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Israel strikes Iran's elite forces in Syria

January 21, 2019

The Israeli Defense Forces have hit several Iranian targets near the Syrian capital Damascus. An Iranian official has threatened retaliation against Israel, saying his forces are ready to "wipe it off the earth."

Israel F-16 jet
Image: Picture-alliance/dpa/epa/A. Sultan

Israel's armed forces said on Monday that it had struck Iranian targets inside Syria, an unusual admission by a country that rarely comments on its military actions inside its neighbor.

"We have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory," Israel's military wrote on Twitter, referring to an elite branch of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. "We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory."


The targets included a site at Damascus' international airport, an Iranian intelligence site and an arms cache. The Russian Defense Ministry said air defenses it supplied to Syria had destroyed at least 30 cruise missiles, reported state-owned RIA news agency.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes left 11 people dead. Russia, a key supporter of Syria, said at least four Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack.

Read more: Russia encroaches on US war industry in Middle East


Iranian General Aziz Nassirzadeh, who heads Iran's air force, said his soldiers are "impatient and ready for a fight against the Zionist regime to wipe it off the earth," in comments circulated on a news site with links to state media.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back, warning Iran against taking any further action Israel.

"We are operating both against Iran and against the Syrian forces that are abetting the Iranian aggression," Netanyahu said on Monday. "We will strike at anyone who tried to harm us. Whoever threatens to eliminate us bears full responsibility."

Read more:Iran and Israel's Syrian shadow war laid bare 

A first for everything

Israel has traditionally avoided admissions about its military strikes in Syria, primarily to avoid greater involvement in Syria's civil war.

But Anshel Pfeffer, a British reporter for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, said the strikes marked a shift in for the Israeli armed forces in communicating its operations.

"This is the first time Israel has not only taken responsibility for attacking Iranian targets in Syria but announced they were taking place in real-time," said Pfeffer. "Sounds like someone has a point to make."

Read more: Iran's military power: What you need to know

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

ls,av/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Jogger runs by US Capitol
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage