Israeli warplanes struck dozens of suspected Iranian military targets in Syria early Thursday, in a furious response to what Israel called an unsuccessful Iran rocket attack launched from Syria. "We did not come to the Iranian border, they came here", he said. Israel fears that will allow Iran to more easily transfer weapons to Hezbollah, Lebanon's powerful Shiite guerrilla force, and reinforce the militant group's influence over the region. Iran's rocket attack also came a couple days after President Trump announced he was pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
It added that the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
Iran appeared determined not to be drawn into a wider regional conflict with Israel during the sensitive negotiations.
Iran on Friday supported Syria's right to defended itself against Israel's aggression, state TV reported, accusing the global community of remaining silent over Israel's attacks on Tehran's key regional ally. The airstrikes were retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack by Syria. He said Israel had responded, but did not provide details.
The extent of the damage inflicted by the Israeli airstrikes was not immediately clear.
Iran has repeatedly called for an end to the existence of the Jewish state.
The IDF said it had also targeted several Syrian military air defence systems after they fired at the Israeli fighter jets despite an Israeli "warning".
Israel's military had been anticipating an attack by Iranian forces after reportedly carrying out a number of strikes on their facilities in Syria in recent months. Officials have also said the northern border is no longer considered two separate entities, but one continuous front.
In all, at least 23 people were killed in the strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.
Israel said it had attacked almost all of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria in response to the attack, which marked the first time Iranian forces have fired at Israeli-held territory.
In the most direct confrontation between Israel and Iran to date, the two regional enemies exchanged fire for hours during a volatile night in the Golan Heights.
Israel has warned it will not tolerate Tehran establishing itself militarily on its doorstep in Syria. "Whatever happens in Syria happens under the command of the Syrians", said analyst Mohammad Marandi, who was part of Iran's negotiation team leading up to the nuclear deal. It said half the missiles were shot down.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, an annual security gathering north of Tel Aviv, Lieberman said Israel would respond fiercely to any further Iranian actions. President Donald Trump's announcement Tuesday that the USA was withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has triggered uncertainty and threatened to spark more unrest in the Middle East. "I hope that we ended this chapter and that everyone understood". "He calls for a de-escalation in the situation", Macron's office said in a statement.
An official with the Iran-led regional alliance supporting regime head Bashar Assad said the strike targeted a regime position, but killed a Syrian man and his wife who happened to be passing by in their vehicle.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 war and annexed it in 1981.
Damascus shook with sounds of explosions just before dawn, and firing by Syrian air defenses over the city was heard for more than five hours.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow sees Thursday's strikes as a "very alarming development".
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday Iran had "crossed a red line" and the resulting bombardment "was a consequence".
But if they do escalate, the region could face one of its worst cross-border conflicts in decades, one that could potentially drag in the United States, a major ally of Israel, and Russian Federation, which is Syria's mightiest ally. The pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper reported Thursday that Russian Federation and Israel were developing an agreement to keep Iran out of southern Syria and allow Syrian government forces to retake the region.
Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the IDF, said all of the rockets were either downed by aerial defense systems, or fell short landing in Syria, with none entering Israeli territory. The incoming attack set off air raid sirens in the Golan. "It means we are on a collision course".
Late Tuesday, Syrian state media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital of Damascus.
Israel anxious installation of the defense systems could upset the balance of power in Syria and could make Israeli aircraft penetration more hard.
Opposition fighters and their families left Babila, Beit Sahem and Yalda, three southern suburbs that were held by rebels for years, Syrian state media and a war monitor said.