Israeli jets hit targets in Syria to prevent Iranian drone attack: army

‘Kill first!’ Netanyahu claims Israel’s Syria strikes thwarted imminent ‘Iranian aggression’

‘Kill first!’ Netanyahu claims Israel’s Syria strikes thwarted imminent ‘Iranian aggression’

Late Saturday night, the Israel Defense Forces made a rare announcement admitting it had carried out the attack in Syria against Iranian forces and Shiite militia members who been working on a plan to fly explosives laden drones into Israel.

"The IDF is prepared to continue defending the State of Israel against any attempts to harm it and holds Iran and the Syrian regime directly responsible for the thwarted attack", the military said in a statement.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus claimed that the Israeli attacks had managed to inflict significant damage in Damascus.

This is a developing story.

"We just prevented a pending, large-scale attack of multiple killer drones on Israel by striking Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite Militia targets in Syria", the IDF wrote in a post on Twitter.

While Israel operates regularly in Syria, it rarely acknowledges its actions so swiftly, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning arch-foe Iran it had no immunity from his state's military.

An AFP correspondent in Damascus heard several large explosions before Sana announced the defensive action.

"The objective of the cell was to launch multiple attack drones on northern Israeli territory".

A Syrian military source quoted by official Sana news agency said that "anti-aircraft defences detected enemy targets from Golan heading towards the area around Damascus".

"The aggression is ongoing and air defences are confronting hostile targets and are downing a lot of them in the southern region", state media outlet SANA said, indicating areas south of Damascus.

In recent days, US officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq. Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, the Israeli leader's office said. "Of course, I have given the security forces a free hand and the instruction to do what is needed to thwart these plans of Iran", Netanyahu said.

On Wednesday, the PMF, the umbrella grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying U.S. forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

Since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011, Israel has conducted hundreds of strikes in Syria, a lot of them against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

Israel Air Force bases are now on heightened alert in anticipation of possible retaliation from Iran.