Israel’s Defense Forces says they have begun striking Iranian targets inside Syria, tweeting that they are targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards elite forces, the Quds.
Israel has not provided any other details, but it’s military warned Syria on Twitter not to “harm” Israeli forces or territory.
Tensions have escalated quickly between forces within the two neighboring countries.
Netanyahu: “We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria.”
“We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory,” Haaretz.com reported the IDF as saying, adding that the IDF hit targets belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite unit Quds Force.
The move is a calculated response by the IDF which said earlier on Jan. 20, 2019, that it intercepted missiles launched out of Syria toward Israel.
Syrian media say air defenses managed to repel “an Israeli aerial attack,” following reports of strikes in and around the Syrian capital Damascus early on Jan. 21, 2019.
Associated Press reports that earlier on Jan. 20, 2019, the IDF said it had intercepted a rocket over the Golan Heights.
The statement is a surprising break with protocol for an Israeli military with a reputation for adhering to its own discipline and systems.
The IDF very rarely signals its intent with a statement to media or via any public admissions most particularly when considering its largely covert military operations in Syria.
With so much at stake, Israel has sought to keep its profile and involvement in the bloody and drawn out civil war to a minimum.
According to Syrian military the IDF began intensive airstrikes, launching groups of missiles shortly after 1 a.m. local time. Reports via the BBC suggest that the Syrian air defenses destroyed most of the missiles before they hit their targets.
On Jan. 20, 2019, Syrian state media confirmed that air defenses successfully protected the international airport south of Damascus.
Syrian state TV said the war torn nation’s air defenses “prevented” the attack, saying Israel targeted 6 missiles near Damascus International Airport. State TV said that 5 were intercepted while the last was “diverted.”
Witnesses heard explosions overnight and while the damage remains uncertain, the BBC reports that the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believes Israeli rockets were directly targeting Damascus.
The operation comes after Israeli said that “a rocket was fired at the northern Golan Heights and was intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defence System”.
While Israel rarely confirms or denies it’s strategic operations inside Syria, or elsewhere, but with the political future of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the spotlight, the prime minister issued a warning himself while in Chad on Jan. 20, 2019.
After Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile shield intercepted a rocket fired toward the Golan Heights, Netanyahu, released a a statement reminding his constituents if Israel’s standing policy.
Israel’s Iron Dome
“We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria and to harm anyone who tries to harm us.”
Netanyahu has previously claimed that Israel has destroyed hundreds of Iran-linked objectives in Syria, including a weapons facility linked to Hezbollah two weeks ago.
In May 2018, Israel said it destroyed almost all of Iran’s military infrastructure inside Syria in its such biggest assault since the start of the Syrian civil war 8 years ago.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.