Trump, May condemn Iran rocket attacks on Israel: White House

Larry Hoffman
May 14, 2018

It was the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date.

The death toll from the strikes has risen to 27, including at least 11 Iranians and six Syrian soldiers, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Following the move, the U.S. reimplemented heavy sanctions against Iran, including on six individuals and three companies the administration says has channeled millions of dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Qods Force. It said it hit targets near the capital, in southern and central Syria, targeting weapons storage, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces in Syria.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Friday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the two leaders condemned Iran's rocket attacks on Israel from Syria, the White House said in a statement.

Kozhin's comments immediately followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Russian Federation on Wednesday.

The more deadly of the attacks came early Thursday morning, when Israel struck positions in multiple locations across the country thought to be hosting Iranian military assets and personnel.

Speaking while touring the Israeli side of the occupied Golan Heights, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel is not looking for friction. "Throw out the Iranians, throw out Qassem Soleimani and the Quds force".

Israel has increasingly warned that it sees Iranian influence in Syria as a threat, pointing to Iran's military presence inside the country as well as that of Iranian-backed militiamen.

The brief but intense confrontation raised fears the region may be sliding into an unprecedented direct conflict between the two archenemies. It also came just hours after President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal.

The 2015 nuclear deal imposed restrictions on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in return for the lifting of most of the US and global sanctions against Tehran.

Israel blamed the Quds forces, a special detachment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, for being behind the missiles.

It has also targeted what it says are arms deliveries to Hezbollah in Syria.

"The holy system of the Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground", he said, according to state television. Thursday's attack was a "blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty", Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying Friday.

Syria's state news agency SANA said opposition fighters who chose to stay in the suburbs will hand over the weapons and return to normal life.

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