Israeli forces have responded to a series of rockets launched by the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group into its sovereign territory Thursday morning, striking several locations in Syria held by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Arabic spokesperson wrote on Twitter that Israel struck 14 military targets throughout Syria in response to the rocket attacks.
ضرب جيش الدفاع في الساعات الاخيرة من خلال طائرات سلاح الجو وقوات برية ١٤ هدف للنظام السوري في وسط هضبة #الجولان السورية
— افيخاي ادرعي (@AvichayAdraee) August 20, 2015
Reports on social media state that the Syrian regime troops sustained several casualties from the bombings, but Breitbart News could not independently verify these reports.
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) August 20, 2015
The jihadi group has denied responsibility for firing the rocket salvo, saying that accusations against them are meant to draw attention away from a Palestinian hunger-striker in Israeli prison, The Times of Israel reported.
A Palestinian Islamic Jihad official who takes orders from the Iranian Quds force was responsible for ordering the rocket strikes on Israel’s north, a senior IDF official told YnetNews.
The unnamed source said, “The incident was directed by Iran – Saeed Izadi, the head of the Palestinian department of the Iranian Quds Force. He directed the rocket fire today and is active in smuggling weapons from Syria to Lebanon.”
“The Iranians want to heat up the front against us in the northern and southern Golan [Heights]. It’s in the Syrian and Iranian interest,” he added.
Israel holds Syria responsible for any attacks that come from its territory, the official clarified. He said that the IDF struck Syrian targets with tanks, artillery, and airstrikes. Syrian state-news outlets have reported that an Israeli helicopter fired several missiles at Syrian targets, as well.
“We attacked several kilometers into Syria, five or six sites with multiple targets within each site. Our attacks are much more severe this time around, in order to send a message and underscore the severity of this incident,” the official said, speaking with YnetNews.