The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) traded fire with Iran's Qods Force and Syria air defences during 20-21 January in the most significant escalation since 9-10 May 2018, when the IDF responded to a rocket attack with extensive airstrikes.
The escalation began on 20 January, when the state Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported a military source as saying that Syrian air defences had thwarted Israeli airstrikes.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said Syrian Pantsyr and Buk air-defence systems engaged seven missiles that were launched against Damascus International Airport (IAP) from the Mediterranean by four Israeli F-16 aircraft at 0132 h local time. "The Pantsyr and Buk air-defence systems engaged seven Israeli missiles," it said. "It is reported that the attack did not damage the airport and caused no casualties."
Later that day, Iranian forces in the vicinity of Damascus fired a surface-to-surface missile at the Golan Heights, where it was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery, IDF spokesman Lieutenant General Jonathan Conricus told reporters on a conference call. "This was a missile brought from Iran, fired by Iranian forces in a premeditated attack," he said.
He did not identify the missile but indicated that the launch was a pre-planned response to Israeli strikes like the one on 10 May 2018.
"There are civilian sites in the Golan Heights and civilians could have been injured. We saw this as an unacceptable attack by Iranian troops - not proxies, not militias, not Syrian forces - but Iranian troops firing an Iranian-made missile from the vicinity of Damascus towards an Israeli target," he said. "The area from which the Iranians fired their missile is an area that we have been promised the Iranians would not be present in."
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