Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired, Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday.
“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Interfax news agency.
Russia said Syria’s air defense systems shot down more than half of the missiles, while the extent of the damage was still being assessed.
“The locations of Iranian armed groups and also the positions of the Syrian army’s air defenses in the area around Damascus and in the south of Syria were attacked,” the ministry said. Israel carried out the raids after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights overnight.
It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four of the projectiles while the rest did not land in its territory.
‘Restraint on all sides’
On Thursday Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for “restraint on all sides”, adding that Moscow was “concerned” at the development.
The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year civil war.
At the meeting Putin also expressed “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a decision Netanyahu supported. On Wednesday the Russian leader called the situation in the Middle East “unfortunately very acute”.
Netanyahu had told Putin that “it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from (Iranian) aggression)”, his office said in a statement Wednesday, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria.
Israel forewarned Russia of its strikes on Thursday against multiple targets in Syria, an Israeli military spokesman said.
“The Russians were informed prior to our attack by the established mechanisms that we have,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters without elaborating.