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Israel Defense Forces Exchange Artillery Fire With Iranian Troops, Syrian Army: REPORTS

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Iranian fighters based in Syria fired about 20 rockets at Israeli army positions in the occupied Golan Heights early Thursday morning, local time, according to an Israel Defense Forces spokesman.

“Some” of the incoming rockets were intercepted, and damage on the Israeli side was minimal, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said, according to The Associated Press. There were no reports of Israeli casualties.

The rockets are thought to have been fired by Iranian Quds Force deployed inside Syria, the IDF said. The Quds Force is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ special operations division responsible for extraterritorial operations

Israel had retaliated for the rocket attack, Conricus confirmed but would not say where or how.

“We have retaliated, but I have no further details about this,” he said, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Israel fired several artillery shells at Syrian Arab Army positions near Damascus,multiple Middle East news outlets reported. The Syrian Army reportedly responded by launching missiles at an IDF base in the Golan Heights. Both sides continued to exchange fire, though it was not immediately clear where additional targets were located.

The flare-up comes amid heightened tensions between Israel and Syria, where Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah are backing the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that country’s civil war. Israel considers the presence of Iran-backed fighters in Syria to be an intolerable national security threat and has previously launched airstrikes at Syrian military bases thought to be hosting Iranian fighters.

On Tuesday, just hours after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Israeli authorities said they had identified “unusual movements” of Iranian forces in Syria. Defense officials responded to the activity by opening bomb shelters along the Golan Heights, which border Syria, and ordering IDF troops to be on “high alert” for an attack.

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