Israeli tanks at a deployment area in the Golan Heights, near the Syrian border, on Thursday

The U.S. condemned Iran’s “provocative rocket attacks against Israeli citizens” and expressed strong support for “Israel’s right to act in self-defence,” hours after Israel said it hit dozens of Iranian targets in Syria.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “the Iranian regime’s deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East”.

Russia Confirms Attack

Reflecting the scope of the overnight attacks, Russia’s military said 28 Israeli jets were involved, striking at several Iranian and government sites in Syria with 70 missiles. It said half of the missiles were shot down.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, an annual security gathering north of Tel Aviv, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel would response fiercely to any further Iranian actions.

“We will not let Iran turn Syria into a forward base against Israel,” he said. “We, of course, struck almost all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and they need to remember this arrogance of theirs. If we get rain, they’ll get a flood. I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which closely monitors the civil war through sources inside Syria, said the overnight Israeli attacks struck several military posts of Syrian troops and Iranian-backed militias near the capital Damascus, in central Syria and in southern Syria. The Observatory said the attacks killed 23 fighters, including five Syrian soldiers.

The Syrian military said the Israeli strikes killed three people and wounded two, without saying if any Iranians or Iran-backed militiamen were among them. It said the strikes destroyed a radar station and an ammunition warehouse, and damaged a number of air defence units. The military said air defence systems intercepted “the large part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.

An Iranian state television presenter described the Israeli attack as “unprecedented” since the 1967 West Asian war.