(CNSNews.com) – Airborne confrontations between Israel and Syria-based Iranian forces are growing increasingly serious, but that didn’t stop the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) from posting a mocking message on Twitter Monday, suggesting the Iranians were “lost” and needed help to find their way home.
“Iran, you seem to be lost,” the IDF tweeted, then offered a map with arrows to show “where Iran is” (Syria) and “where Iran belongs” (within its own borders).
The tweet was posted after the IDF said its jets early Monday struck Iranian military targets inside Syria, including a Qods Force intelligence site, training camp, munition storage sites, and a “military site” located at the Damascus international airport.
The IDF said its planes also targeted several Syrian air defense batteries, after they launched dozens of surface-to-air missiles “despite clear warnings” from Israel not to do so.
The raid was in response to the firing on Sunday afternoon of a rocket in the direction of a popular ski resort in the north of the Golan Heights. The Iron Dome missile defense shield intercepted the incoming rocket – which significantly was a medium-range surface-to-surface, not surface-to-air projectile, and therefore could not plausibly be explained as an attempt to defend against Israeli aircraft.
The IDF accused the Qods Force of responsibility. “By firing towards Israeli civilians, Iran once again proved that it is attempting to entrench itself in Syria, endangering the State of Israel and regional stability,” it said. “The IDF will continue to act decisively and firmly against the Iranian establishment in Syria.”
Earlier, Israel had struck an ammunition depot at the Damascus international airport, and in a rare break with a longstanding policy of ambiguity, commented publicly on the incident.
“We have a permanent policy,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday. “To strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and hurt whoever tries to hurt us.”
Iranian leaders have long vowed to destroy the Jewish state, and Israel is concerned that the Syrian conflict will end with Iranian forces entrenched near its northeastern border.
The commander of Iran’s air force, Brig. General. Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted by Iranian state media on Monday as saying his forces were “impatient” to wipe out Israel.
“Our current and future generations are impatient and fully ready to confront the Zionist regime and eliminate it from the Earth,” he said. “Our future generations are learning required know-how for the promised day to destroy Israel.”
Pointing to Nasirzadeh’s comments, retired Israeli Brig.-Gen. Shimon Shapira said it appeared “we are facing a new strategic situation with regard to Israel’s dealing with Iran in Syria.”
“At its foundation lies the risk that Iran, through the Qods Force, will intensify its reactions to Israeli attacks on Syria and is even prepared to enter into a limited conflict with Israel,” added Shapira, now a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Israel’s strikes inside Syria are causing tensions with Russia, which has been warning the Israelis to stop carrying out attacks near the Damascus airport.
Russia began supplying the Assad regime with advanced S300 surface-to-air missiles last fall to strengthen its air defenses, after Syrian operators using less-sophisticated Russian-supplied S200s mistakenly shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 crew members onboard.
(Russia blamed Israel for the downing, because the Syrians were apparently aiming at the time at encroaching Israeli jets.)
Russia’s defense ministry claimed Monday that Syrian air defenses had “destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided bombs” during Israel’s early Monday air operation.
The IDF, while confirming that the Syrians had launched “dozens” of surface-to-air missiles, did not comment on their accuracy or effect.
The Damascus international airport is not a major destination, but carriers that do use it include Iran’s Mahan Air.
The airline, which reportedly has links to the Qods Force, has long been accused of transporting weaponry and military personnel from Iran to Syria.
The U.S. Treasury Department in 2011 designated it for “providing financial, material and technological support to” the Qods Force, and also for transporting “personnel, weapons and goods on behalf of [Iran’s Lebanese terrorist proxy] Hezbollah.”
On Monday, Germany revoked Mahan Air’s license with immediate effect, in the latest European response to Iranian intelligence and terror operations on the Continent.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed the move, saying Mahan Air “transports weapons and fighters across the Middle East, supporting the Iranian regime’s destructive ambitions around the region. We encourage all our allies to follow suit.”
According to the carrier’s website, other U.S. allies currently allowing Mahan services to operate include France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile the Assad regime’s foreign ministry in a letter to U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres and the U.N. Security Council accused Israel of trying the prolong the civil war.
“Israel’s persistence in its dangerous aggressive behavior wouldn’t be possible without the unlimited support of the U.S. administration and the immunity provided to it by the U.S. and other Security Council member states,” it complained.